Poland. In January, Poland began the largest deployment of American troops in Europe since the Cold War. About 1,000 soldiers with tanks and heavy armored vehicles were welcomed at a ceremony in the city of Zagan. A total of 4,000 US soldiers were deployed in Poland and the Baltic during the year, which from Moscow was described as a threat to Russian interests and Russian security.
Following opposition from the opposition, the government withdrew a contentious proposal to limit the media’s ability to serve in the Polish parliament. In doing so, the opposition canceled its boycott of Parliament’s work.
|Gross domestic product (GDP)||$ 1,126,000,000,000|
|GDP growth rate||4.70%|
|GDP per capita||$ 29,600|
|GDP by sector|
|Proportion of the population below the national poverty line||10.6%|
|Distribution of household income|
|Industrial production growth rate||4.20%|
|Investment volume||20.1% of GDP|
|National debt||50.60% of GDP|
|Foreign exchange reserves||115,000,000,000 USD|
|Number of visitors||16,000,000|
According to Countryaah.com, conflicts between the Polish government and the EU continued during the year. This mainly concerned the government’s increasing control over the judiciary and the government’s refusal to accept asylum seekers under the EU’s quota system. The powerful Catholic Church in Poland, unusually, went against the government and urged the government to receive sick Syrian refugees in need of care.
When the European Union elected a permanent President of the European Council, the Polish government tried to prevent the re-election of Donald Tusk, political rival to the ruling party Law and Justice. Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński accused Tusk of being morally responsible for the 2010 Russian Federation air crash that killed, among other things, the then president, Kaczyński’s twin brother. Tusk was prime minister at the time. However, Tusk was re-elected as President of the European Council in March. Poland was alone among 28 countries to vote no. The Polish government reacted with bitterness and described the EU as a union ruled by Germany and built on double standards and deceit.
Prosecutors in Poland then called Donald Tusk to testify in a lawsuit related to the 2010 plane crash. Two Polish officers were charged with cooperating with the Russian intelligence service to hide evidence of the accident. Tusk was allegedly involved in collaboration with the Kremlin to damage Poland’s interests by hiding evidence.
In April, the result of a new accident investigation, added by the current government, about the 2010 air crash. According to it, the crash was probably caused by an explosion on board. Earlier crash investigators had pointed out mistakes by pilots and air traffic controllers, and they labeled the new investigation as propaganda. Tusk was questioned and described the investigation as very political in order to hurt his work as President of the European Council.
In June, the European Commission sent a letter to the Polish government demanding an explanation for Poland’s refusal to accept refugees under the EU’s agreed quota. Depending on the government’s response, there may be a lawsuit in the EU court against Poland.
A controversial felling in World Heritage-listed forests at the border with Belarus led to widespread protests during the summer. In July, Poland was reported to the European Court of Justice for harvesting, which lasted for over a year.
In July, the government proposed a legislative amendment that gives the Minister of Justice the right to appoint all judges in lower courts and that Parliament may appoint members of the National Judicial Council. The opposition labeled the proposal as an attempt at a coup d’etat, and thousands of people protested outside Parliament and the Supreme Court in protest. The European Commission demanded that the Polish government suspend its attempts to take control of the judiciary and threatened to withdraw from Poland the voting rights in the Council of Ministers. Law and Justice Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński replied that the EU should not interfere in Poland’s internal affairs.
When both the Senate and the House of Parliament passed the new laws, the protests grew in strength and spread from the capital Warsaw to the country. Poland’s former president Lech Wałęsa (1990-95) called on the Poles to defend the democracy that was born through the trade union Solidarity’s struggle three decades ago. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for his part, said he supported the Polish government’s fight against what he described as the EU’s inquisition. President Andrzej Duda signed some of the new laws but refused to sign the proposal that the members of the Supreme Court must retire and that the government should appoint new members. According to the president, the proposals were contrary to the Constitution. However, the Minister of Justice was given the right to dismiss and appoint chief judges in lower courts.
In September, the Polish government declared that Germany should pay war damages to Poland for the attack during the Second World War. The sum of EUR 830 billion was mentioned. Germany was completely dismissive, referring to a 1953 agreement that Poland would not claim more damages than it received, an agreement that the current Polish government failed when it signed a Soviet order. In December, the European Commission decided to sue Poland before the European Court of Justice.
In September, the European Court of Justice ruled that the quotas for redistribution of refugees within the EU should be fixed. Hungary and Slovakia had challenged the system in court. The Polish government declared that it remains in its refusal to accept refugees from Greece and Italy.
In November, around 60,000 people gathered for a nationalist demonstration in Warsaw, where, among other things, an Italian fascist leader spoke. Among the participants were also Swedish right-wing extremists.
The European Court of Justice ruled in November that the harvesting of the World Heritage-listed forest must cease, otherwise expensive whites await Poland. The Polish Minister for the Environment said that the government respects the court’s ruling.
In December, Prime Minister Beata Szydło resigned and was succeeded by former Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.