Polish president accuses Germany of pursuing ‘unfriendly’ energy policies

Poland and Baltics would be ‘directly threatened’ only for Ukrainian resistance to Russia, says Duda

Polish president Andrzej Duda has described Germany’s Nord Stream gas pipeline deals, and its wider political approach towards Russia, as an “unfriendly act against our region of Europe”.

Mr Duda said former chancellor Angela Merkel insisted in regular meetings that the undersea pipelines — bypassing Ukraine and Poland — were “purely economic projects over which one could exert little influence”.

“I never bought this argument,” Mr Duda said to the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, echoing his predecessor, described Nord Stream 2 as a “purely economic project” after taking office in December. When Russia invaded Ukraine last February, however, he intervened to halt the second pipeline’s final regulatory approval.


In the interview Mr Duda described Russia as a “danger for Europe”.

“Should Ukraine, with its heroic resistance, fail to withstand Putin’s imperial plans, Poland and the Baltic states would be directly threatened by a further expansion of Russia’s sphere of influence into central Europe,” he said.

Ukraine’s push-back had contained this danger for now but the Polish president predicted the danger would “become more relevant in the future”.

“The only thing that can be done is to strengthen our own security,” he said, noting that Poland had donated 260 older Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine.

A plan to replace these older tanks with newer models from Germany — a so-called circular swap — has not worked out, according to Polish officials, as Germany was unable to deliver enough vehicles in the near future.

Warsaw has refused an offer of 20 German Leopard tanks to be delivered from 2023, saying they are in an inoperable condition, and instead secured new tanks from the US and Korea.

Rule of law

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has seen a shift in the European Union’s stand-off with Poland’s national conservative coalition over controversial court reforms and other rule-of-law concerns.

Last June Poland secured belated EU backing for its long-delayed pandemic recovery plan, a decision Mr Duda hailed as a “breakthrough for Poland” that would “serve the common good”.

He struck a different tone in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, describing concerns in Brussels and other European capitals over Polish courts as “political manoeuvres”.

“Today it is mostly leftist and liberal politicians who have a negative view of our government. They created an artificial row about the rule of law,” he said, insisting that EU member states’ judicial systems was a national matter. “Put bluntly, these politicians didn’t accept that the Poles voted for this government and not another.”

Asked about the situation of LGBTI people in Poland, subject to attacks and harassment, including from members of the ruling government, Mr Duda insisted the situation was “good”.

“I see no problem,” he said. “There is tolerance towards people of a different sexual orientation. They live in their relationships; that is their private business.”

On Tuesday, Polish prosecutors appealed against the acquittal of a drag queen whom they accuse of inciting murder in July 2019 in a public performance involving scissors, fake blood and an inflatable doll featuring the image of Polish bishop Marek Jędraszewski. Days earlier he had described LGBTI people as a “rainbow plague”, similar to the “red plague” of Bolshevism.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin