EU's Tusk says Polish government are 'contemporary Bolsheviks'
European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, yesterday denounced the eurosceptic populists governing Poland as "contemporary Bolsheviks" who threaten the nation's independence.
Tusk, seen as a likely contender in Poland's 2020 presidential election, spoke in the city of Lodz on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the country regaining its statehood at the end of World War I after 123 years of foreign rule.
He honoured Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, the statesman who restored Polish independence and then, as chief of state, went on to defeat the Bolsheviks' Red Army in 1920. He also paid homage to Lech Walesa, the Solidarity trade union founder who challenged Poland's Soviet-backed communist rule during the 1980s and went on to become president from 1990 to 1995.
"Jozef Pilsudski was facing a more difficult situation than we have today when he was conquering the Bolsheviks and in fact, defending the Western community against political barbarians," Tusk said during an independent anniversary forum.
"Walesa had a more difficult situation when he was conquering the Bolsheviks in a symbolic way, when he was bringing out the European, the freedom, the national values in us. But he managed," he continued.
"Why shouldn't you be able to defeat the contemporary Bolsheviks?" Tusk said to great applause. He appealed for Poles to defend their rights, freedom and to "defend Poland's independence".
He said the government, led by the right wing Law and Justice Party, which has repeatedly clashed with EU leaders, was a threat to Poland.
Tusk's appointment to the EU job in 2014 was partly in recognition of his liberal government's pro-EU policies. He warned yesterday that the government is now moving in the opposite direction.