Human rights activist reignites Germany-Poland row

By On September 17, 2018

Human rights activist reignites Germany-Poland row

We use cookies to improve our service for you. You can find more information in our data protection declaration.

More info OK
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Suche
  5. Choose from 30 Languages
  • Albanian Shqip
  • Amharic አማርኛ
  • Arabic العربية
  • Bengali বাংলা
  • Bosnian B/H/S
  • Bulgarian Ð'ългарски
  • Chinese (Simplified) 简
  • Chinese (Traditional) 繁
  • Croatian Hrvatski
  • Dari دری
  • English English
  • French Français
  • German Deutsch
  • Greek Ελληνικά
  • Hausa Hausa
  • Hindi हिन्दी
  • Indonesian Indonesia
  • Kiswahili Kiswahili
  • Macedonian Македонски
  • Pashto پښتو
  • Pers ian فارسی
  • Polish Polski
  • Portuguese Português para África
  • Portuguese Português do Brasil
  • Romanian Română
  • Russian Русский
  • Serbian Српски/Srpski
  • Spanish Español
  • Turkish Türkçe
  • Ukrainian Українська
  • Urdu اردو
Wrong language? Change it here DW.COM has chosen English as your language setting.

Europe

Human rights activist reignites Germany-Poland row

Poland sees Ukrainian human rights activist Lyudmyla Kozlovska as an enemy of the state. But the German parliament has invited her to speak in Berlin, putting a chill on already frosty relations with Warsaw.

People rally in support of Lyudmyla Kozlovska

It was not a particularly specta cular event in the Bundestag. About a dozen lawmakers in the German parliament and a few human rights activists attended a speech made by Lyudmyla Kozlovska.

The head of the Warsaw-based Open Dialog Foundation spoke on an issue that is causing deep divisions in Europe: The dismantling of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary.

Her appearance attracted little attention from the German media but certainly did not go unnoticed in Poland, where the pro-government press decried a "provocation" and labeled the event a "scandal." Politicians in Warsaw were similarly outraged.

It was hardly a surprise that Kozlovska's invitation would agitate Poland. The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) view the 33-year-old Ukrainian as an enemy of the state.

The Crimean-born activist has been running the foundation, which is committed to promoting values of civil society and the "protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law in the post-Sov iet area," for nine years.

Read more: Gay mayor gets Poland's left dreaming of change

Watch video 42:31 Now live 42:31 mins.

Poland at the crossroads

Open dialogue for human rights

The Open Dialog Foundation supported Ukrainian activists during the anti-government Euromaidan protests between November 2013 and February 2014. The foundation also helped opposition dissidents in Kazakhstan after the Zhanaozen massacre that was carried out during the violent suppression of Independence Day demonstrations in December 2011. It exposed corruption in Moldova. And it was once welcome in Poland â€" until the summer of last year.

The hostilities began with a Facebook post by Kozlovska's husband, Bartosz Kramek, who is also head of the foundation board. "A regime that dismantles public life and the system of government must expect society to react," wrote Kramek on social media, calling for civil disobedience, strikes, and anti-government protests.

Overnight, relations with the powers-that-be turned sour. The Polish Foreign Ministry had the foundation's finances reviewed, and attempted to invoke a court ruling that would have established a board of trustees (thus replacing the existing board of directors).

Lyudmyla Kozlovska and her husband Bartosz Kramek

Lyudmyla Kozlovska and her husband Bartosz Kramek during an anti-government protest in Warsaw in 2017

Persona non grata in Poland

In August this year, the Polish government turned up the heat. When Lyudmyla Kozlovska applied for permanent residency in Poland â€" and thus within the EU â€" Poland rejected her application and ha d the Ukrainian deported and subsequently banned from all 26 countries in Europe's Schengen Area.

The Internal Security Agency (ABW) said its counterintelligence department had "serious doubts" about the financing of her foundation. It declined to reveal further details of the accusations but added that there could be "legal repercussions."

The ambiguous official explanation sparked a media frenzy. Pro-government newspapers published several articles referring to the foundation's "undisclosed funding sources."

Kozlovska was described as a foreign agent, allegedly with close ties to Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros and dubious oligarchs in Eastern Europe. Well-known government opponents and famous celebrities such as former Polish President Lech Walesa spoke out against this depiction.

But the outpouring of support did little to help. The expulsion from the Schengen zone was upheld and Kozlovska was deport ed to Ukraine in August. Poland also registered her in the Schengen Information System security database.

Read more: Top German court sides with broadcaster in Nazi camp row

Watch video 04:27 Now live 04:27 mins.

Poland: Satirists under pressure

German-Polish political dynamite

It was then revealed that members of the Bundestag had invited Kozlovska to Berlin. As the Ukrainian activist was denied a Schengen visa in Poland, she turned to the German embassy in Kyiv, which â€" despite the ban â€" issued her with an entry permit.

"It is unacceptable for Poland to prevent a meeting between members of the Bundestag and a human rights activist," criticized Frank Schwabe from the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Andreas Nick from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) also supported the event, saying that German politicians wanted to know firsthand what the human rights situation was like in Poland and Hungary.

In government circles in Poland, the significance of the event is much less benign: The invitation is viewed as "an unfriendly gesture" on Germany's part. A junior minister at the Polish Foreign Ministry personally informed the German ambassador just how angered Warsaw was by the invitation.

Polish President Andrzej Duda even told his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Riga last week that the Bundestag's invitation was harmful to bilateral relations between the neighboring countries.

  • Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of student protes   ts in 1968. (picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Keplicz)

    Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

    A plea for forgiveness

    The communists used the student protests to purge 12,000 Poles of Jewish origin from Poland. On March 8th, 2018. Duda made an emotional plea for forgiveness and placed flowers on at a memorial at the university.

  • Studentenprotest in Warschau 1968 Polizei Kontrolle (picture-alliance/PAP)

    Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

    Under the cover of crisis

    The March 1968 protests across Poland were quickly suppressed by the government of the People's Republic of Poland. The political crisis was used as an excuse by the communists to purge Jews from the government.

  • Students protest in Berlin in solidarity with Polish students in 1968. (picture-alliance/AP/E. Reichert)

    Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

    Solidarity from the West

    German Chancellor Willy Brandt's son Peter (second from right) marched in West Berlin in solidarity with Polish students who were demonstrating in Poland in 1968. The protests in Poland were ruthlessly suppressed by the communist government.

  • Students demonstrated in front of the Communist Party building in Warsaw in 1968. (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Wojciewski )

    Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

    Ground zero: Communist Party headquarters Warsaw

    Students demonstrated in front of the Communist Party building in Warsaw in 1968. The Communist Party used the student protests to purge Jews from the party and from Poland. 12,000 Jews ultimately left Poland

  • Student protesters on the street in Warsaw (picture-alliance/dpa/T. Zagodzinksi )

    Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

    Fighting in the streets

    Polish militia cracked down on the student protests. On March 18, 1968, student protests spread across Poland and the Communist Party ruthlessly suppressed the demonstrations.

  • Students demonstrated in front of the Communist Party building in Warsaw in 1968. (picture-alliance/dpa/T.Zagodzinksi)

    Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

    You say you want a revolution....

    Intellectual centers and universities across Poland erupted in protest in 1968 when officials banned a play by Polish Romantic-era poet Adam Mickiewicz which was deemed to have an anti-Russian message.


The Polish media mirrored Duda's indignation. A commentator on Polish state television news channel TVP Info even compared Kozlovska's invitation with a declaration of war on Poland: "The core of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact remains relevant," he said, referring to what is commonly known as the Nazi-Soviet pact.

Germany's apparent disregard of Poland's entry in the Schengen Information System heightened Warsaw's sense of being snubbed. The issue now threa tens to become a political grenade that will destabilize relations from either side.

Either Poland now provides irrefutable evidence that Kozlovska poses a security risk that justifies her expulsion from Schengen, in which case the Bundestag would then appear imprudent, or Warsaw's credibility is severely damaged.

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

DW recommends

Is Europe doing enough to protect human rights?

A lack of EU solidarity over the refugee crisis has placed an "intolerable burden" on Italy and Greece, says Michael O'Flaherty, director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. He meets Michel Friedman on Conflict Zone. (15.02.2018)

Poland: Peaceful protest 'under serious threat,' warns rights group

Amnesty International has called on Warsaw to "protect the right" to freedom of assembly. Judges have warned of mounting pressure to back authorities, saying "it is very difficult to work in these conditions." (25.06.2018)

Gay mayor gets Poland's left dreaming of change

Robert Biedron is a politician for openness and a hero to Poland's left. The challenge the current mayor of Slupsk poses to the country's establishment has drawn comparisons to French President Emmanuel Macron. (10.09.2018)

What is Article 7 of the EU Treaty?

The Article 7 procedure was designed to deter member states from advancing policies that threaten democratic institutions. The mechanism has so far been triggered against Poland and Hungary. (12.09.2018)

Protests staged across Poland as controversial judicial reform law signed

Demonstrations took place across Poland as President Andrzej Duda signed into law a measure that enables the right-wing rul ing PiS Party handpick the next chief justice. (27.07.2018)

Polish-German relations: The sticking points

Things can change quickly. In 2013, 70 percent of Germans described their country’s relationship with Poland as "good." Now that number is down to 31 percent. Why did it happen, and what are the current problems? (04.06.2018)

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stresses rule of law on Polish visit

Meeting with Polish President Duda, Steinmeier said European unity is only possible when members uphold common values. Relations between the two countries have been hampered by differing opinions over those values. (06.06.2018)

Europe's Schengen Area: What you need to know

Europe owes its open borders to the Schengen Agreement, which allows cooperation and free travel through 22 out of the 28 EU member states. How has the agreement contributed to a united Europe â€" and will it survive? (03. 07.2018)

Top German court sides with broadcaster in Nazi camp row

German broadcaster ZDF will not have to post a specifically worded apology as demanded by a Polish court after calling WWII Nazi camps "Polish death camps." The court ruling runs the risk of Polish castigation. (21.08.2018)

Poland commemorates 50th anniversary of 1968 anti-Semitic purge

Fifty years after student protests in Poland, Polish President Andrzej Duda apologizes. (08.03.2018)

WWW links

Daily Bulletin registration form

Newsletter registration

Audios and videos on the topic

Poland at the crossroads

Poland judge defies 'purge,' supported by angry protests

Poland: Satirists under pressure

  • Date 17.09.2018
  • Author Wojciech Szymanski
  • Related Subjects The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Human Rights, Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Schengen area
  • Keywords Poland, PiS, human rights, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, Schengen
  • Feedback: Send us your feedback.
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink https://p.dw.com/p/352KS

Related content

Polen | Demonstranten protestieren in Warschau gegen die polnische Justizreform

Protests staged across Poland as controversial judicial reform law signed 27.07.2018

Demonstrations took place across Poland as President Andrzej Duda signed into law a measure that enables the right-wing ruling PiS Party handpick the next chief justice.

Protest in Polen -Gestohlene Gerechtigkeit

Poland: Peaceful protest 'under serious threat,' warns rights group 25.06.2018

Amnesty International has called on Warsaw to "protect the right" to freedom of assembly. Judges have warned of mounting pressure to back authorities, saying "it is very difficult to work in these conditions."

Polen - Proteste gegen strengere Abtreibungsgesetze

Thousands in Poland protest stricter abortion laws 23.03.2018

The country already has some of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws, but the ruling PiS party wants to tighten them further. The EU human rights head has warned this would put Poland at odds with international law.

  • Date 17.09.2018
  • Author Wojciech Szymanski
  • Related Subjects The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Human Rights, Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Schengen area
  • Keywords Poland, PiS, human rights, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, Schengen
  • Send us your feedback.
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink https://p.dw.com/p/352KS
Advertisement

News bulletin

Top stories in 90 seconds

DW News presents the most important news â€" in brief, quickly and up-to-date.

Europe

Three Seas summit in Bucharest seeks backing from Western Europe

Russian Communists cry foul over vote-rigging in Vladivostok

European Central Bank unveils new €100 and €200 banknotes

Charting Russia's role in Poland's path to NATO

Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland

Next
« Prev Post
Previous
Next Post »