2007-09-28 Michal Kubicki
Listen to the report >>

OSCE has slams Poland for refusing to issue an invitation to watch parliamentary elections

Logo of OSCELogo of OSCE
The polish government hasn’t endeared itself to other European states this year, upsetting Germany with references to the war many deemed inappropriate. And it seems intent on following that path again now. Less than a month before parliamentary elections in Poland it is still not clear if observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be allowed to monitor the campaign and the ballot itself. The OSCE has slammed Poland for refusing to issue an invitation but as we hear in this report from Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service the story is not that simple:

A high ranking official of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe described Poland’s decision not to invite OSCE observers as an unprecedented move that sets a bad example. But as Urdur Gunnarsdottir, spokeswoman of the Warsaw-based organization’s election monitoring body – the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – told me, the issue is not yet closed.

‘The Polish government has not refused anything; what it has done is to answer a letter from us in which we requested a set of meetings. They have informed us that they have no time to meet with us. We’re still hoping for an invitation because Poland, as all other OSCE countries, is obliged to invite us.’

The Polish conservative government treated the OSCE’s initial request as ‘untactful’. Foreign minister Anna Fotyga:

Urdur GunnarsdottirUrdur Gunnarsdottir
‘The written request addressed to Poland is an inappropriate document. Poland has nothing to hide and elections are conducted here in a democratic way.’

If so, government critics respond, why not simply to invite the observers. A leader of the opposition Civic Platform Bronisław Komorowski

‘I think the government has made a mistake. There is still time to retract on its stand and invite OSCE representatives. This should be an initiative of thee Polish government.’

According to most analysts of the Polish scene, the official government rhetoric is part of an election strategy of the prime minister’s Law and Justice party, a strategy which political commentator Łukasz Warzecha sums up in these words:

‘Nobody will impose anything on us. We don’t want anyone to control us or check if we can do these things in a democratic way.’

This may be a message addressed to the party’s electorate, but what about Poland’s image abroad. Many commentators here say that an absence of foreign observers during the parliamentary election would further tarnish the country’s image. Łukarz Warzecha is among those who think that Poland has other, more serious problems on the international scene.

The seat of OSCE in ViennaThe seat of OSCE in Vienna
‘Much bigger problem is our relations with Germany or Russia, Let’s be honest, the OSCE is not a very important organization and I think that foreign leaders see very well that Poland is a democracy and that there is no danger to democracy in Poland, so I don’t think this will be a very big problem for Poland.’

The government spokesman said Poland does not want to be treated like a Third World country. But the OSCE has stressed time and again that the presence of its observers in any country has nothing to do with the organization’s criticism of the democratic procedures there. Urdur Gunnarsdottir again.

‘This is in no way a judgment over how an election is perceived or how it is being held. It’s simply a statement of interest from our side and when we look at elections we are not playing election police or chasing problems. We’re looking at the mechanics of an election. It’s equally of interest to us in France and in Russia, in Poland and in Switzerland.’

There is much to indicate that Poland will eventually reconsider its stand. Prime minister Kaczyński said a few days ago that Poland does not want to create problems where they don’t exist and according to a survey fifty seven percent of Pole think that foreign observers should be invited.

Listen to the report:





Real Audio





Also in this issue

EU wants mandatory safety tests on some toysThe European Union is taking aim at manufactures this week with a proposal for tougher controls on toys made in China. The European Parliament will vote on Wednesday to introduce more rigorous checks on imported toys and impose fines on companies that make dangerous products. The move comes after a recall of Chinese-made toys by the US toy giant Mattel this summer because of loose parts and lead content in its products. So will this toy story have a happy ending? Radio Netherlands world wide’s Brussels correspondent Vanessa Mock reports. >>>

Film Director Gunnel ArrbäckIn Sweden, all films are subjected to the watchful eyes of one of the world's oldest film censors, Statens Biografbyrå from the National Board of Film Classification which is a governmental body. Now even though a movie hasn't been cut in over a decade, film Director Gunnel Arrbäck is opposed to the agency's censoring activity: Radio Sweden’s Elisavet Sotiriadou has this report >>>

Roadsign in Irish reading "Caution Children"After decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, republicans and unionists have been sharing power again since May. But many republicans want official recognition of the Irish language in the province. That, they argue, was part of last year’s St Andrew’s Agreement which paved the way for power sharing. As a result, a draft bill to protect and promote Irish has been drawn up but as Eric Heath reports; unionist politicians say they’ll veto it. >>>

Cycling in Prague only for the brave?The politics of traffic is congesting the capital. Visitors coming to Prague from Holland or Scandinavia may get the impression that Czechs don't like cycling. Seeing bikes on the streets of the Czech capital isn’t unknown, but compared to other European cities, there are still very few of them. Besides, you almost never come across bicycles parked in the streets. Yet, strange as it may seem, statistics say that every second inhabitant of Prague is a bicycle owner and Czechs claim that cycling is their favorite sport. Radio Prague’s Ruth Frankova has been finding out. >>>

Marceau said much with his silent act

Christine Pizziol-Griere

Marcel MarceauFrom the silent dance of bicycles we go to the silent dance of the body, and to the man who made this form of art known around the globe. The world-famous master of mime Marcel Marceau died on September 22nd at the age of 84. Marceau achieved world fame when he created Bip, his on-stage persona, a sad-faced tragi-comic figure. Bip expressed happiness and hope, solitude and despair. He showed life in all its beauty and fragility. Radio France International’s Christine Pizziol-Griere has this report: >>>

Latest Programme
The Programme About Us
Programme Archive RSS and Podcasting
Contact Us
Deutsche Welle Deutsche Welle Polish Radio External Service Polish Radio External Service Radio Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria Radio France International Radio France International Radio Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide Radio Prague Radio Prague Radio Romania International Radio Romania International Radio Slovakia International Radio Slovakia International Radio Slovenia International Radio Slovenia International Radio Sweden Radio Sweden