by MONITOR
POLAND is generally regarded as one of the more important countries among the 15 newcomers which joined the European Union last year. It is worrying, therefore, that the country of the magnificent Lech Walesa, whose role in undermining the Soviet Union's grip on Eastern Europe can never be overestimated, is now being run by what The Times has called the “terrible twins”. Lech Kaczynski, the younger by 45 minutes, is President and Jaroslav is Prime Minister. In his inaugural speech this week Jaroslav promised to make a Poland a “big country that counts in Brussels” while at the same time protecting its culture and morals against European Union liberalisation. When Lech was Mayor of Warsaw he ordered the police to break up a demonstration by gays, declaring, ”I have nothing against them protesting as citizens, only as homosexuals.” Just recently Lech demanded an apology from the German government for a scurrilous article about their mother that had appeared in a German newspaper, and cancelled a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when he did not get it. The brothers' Law and Justice Party is strong on patriotism and has as its parliamentary allies the extreme–right Self–Defence Party. Poland and its 38 million people provide an important element in the development of the European Union. Hopefully, the twins will turn out to be not so terrible; the EU needs tolerant and open–minded attitudes among its leaders, not policies that look to the past.

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