Polish PM accuses Hollande of blackmail, mocks his 4% poll rating

'Am I supposed to take seriously the blackmail of a president who has a 4% approval rating and who soon won’t be president?'

10 March 2017, 8:20pm
Polish PM Beata Szydlo has taken aim at her French counterpart Francois Hollande
Polish PM Beata Szydlo has taken aim at her French counterpart Francois Hollande
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo has accused French President Francois Hollande of trying to blackmail her country, in a row over Thursday’s re-election of EU Council leader Donald Tusk.

Speaking at an EU summit in Brussels, Szydlo took aim at Hollande after the French president reportedly said that richer Western nations were helping to pay for Poland’s development through EU structural funds.

“Am I supposed to take seriously the blackmail of a president who has a 4% approval rating and who soon won’t be president?” she asked. “If someone says ‘you’re not behaving properly so you won’ t get the money’ – that’s unacceptable.

“Some leaders in Europe believe that everything and anything can be bought with money and I said that that is not our opinion last night.”

Poland is the biggest net recipient of EU funds – it is set to receive over €100 billion in EU funding from the current budget period from 2014 to 2020.

Szydlo, whose rightwing Eurosceptic Law and Justice party has nursed a long and bitter rivalry with Tusk, nominated a rival candidate for EU Council president but did not receive any support from the other EU member states. Poland responded to Tusk’s re-election by blocking the summit’s final statement.

EU leaders urged Poland to put the row behind it.

“I see no sense, either for the Poles or the rest, in going to sulk in a corner,” Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said.

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel warned that frustration with Poland among EU member states lingered, and that “behaviour like yesterday’s is not acceptable”.

“I don’t think yesterday will be the long-term state of the EU. I am convinced that Poland will become sensible again in the coming days and weeks.”

Tusk, a former Polish Prime Minister from a rival party, is a long-time critic of the current government’s policies, and has in turn been accused of meddling in Poland’s domestic affairs.