Morawiecki speech in Heidelberg: Poland's head of government warns against too much Europe

Poland's head of government has spoken out in the debate about the future of Europe with a clear commitment to the role of the nation states in the EU.

Morawiecki speech in Heidelberg: Poland's head of government warns against too much Europe

Poland's head of government has spoken out in the debate about the future of Europe with a clear commitment to the role of the nation states in the EU. "We need a Europe that is strong because of its nation states and not one that is built on their ruins," said Mateusz Morawiecki in Heidelberg.

The national-conservative politician stressed that it was a mistake to strive for a European superstate, as some bureaucrats in Brussels wanted. The Ukrainians are also currently fighting for their national identity and their nation state - this is the motivation for their ongoing resistance to aggression by Russia, which wants to take both from them.

Poland's government had self-confidently placed Morawiecki's lecture in the auditorium of Heidelberg University in the tradition of important speeches on the future of Europe - such as the Europe speeches by French President Emmanuel Macron in September 2017 at the Sorbonne University in Paris and by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in August 2022 at Charles University in Prague. "The center of Europe is moving eastwards," said Scholz in Prague. And it is primarily Poland that has gained importance and influence through this development.

Steadfast Ukraine supporter and 'humanitarian superpower'

The EU and NATO country - along with the Baltic states - has proved to be Ukraine's staunchest supporter since the start of the Ukraine war. When the leaders in Berlin and Paris appeared to be paralyzed at times in the first months of the war, it was Poland who loudly insisted that the West had a moral obligation to support the Ukrainians militarily as well.

In addition, Poland has become a "humanitarian superpower," as US Ambassador to Warsaw Mark Brzezinski put it. The country, which refused to take in refugees in 2015 and cracked down on migrants at the Belarusian border in 2021, has taken in 1.5 million war refugees from Ukraine.

Highly favored by the USA

And so Morawiecki now gave his speech in the clear consciousness of moral superiority. "Those who wanted a strategic alliance with Russia for decades and made European countries dependent on Russia for their energy supplies made a terrible mistake," he said in Heidelberg. Those who warned against Russian imperialism and kept saying not to trust Russia were right. "Without the interference of the USA - and perhaps also that of Poland - there would be no Ukraine today."

No other country in Europe is currently as popular with Washington as Poland. US President Joe Biden has visited Warsaw twice within a year: a few weeks after the outbreak of war in March 2022 and again shortly before the first anniversary of the outbreak of war in February. Biden, on the other hand, has not been to Berlin and Paris since he took office as president.

Poland is arming massively

In the field of defence, in particular, Poland asserts its claim to leadership. Whether it's about the delivery of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine or, as was the case recently, MiG-29 fighter jets: Warsaw is pushing ahead. Poland has become the most important logistical hub for Western military aid. And the NATO country is arming itself massively. The army is expected to grow to 300,000 soldiers in the coming years, almost doubling. Billions worth of deals have been signed with the United States and South Korea for the supply of modern tanks, howitzers and fighter jets.

But what about Poland's role within the EU? In Heidelberg, Morawiecki warned against "Gleichschalt" and painted a gloomy picture of Brussels bureaucrats who want to get rid of democracy in the member states. A standard argument of the national conservative PiS government, which is in a permanent clinch with Brussels because of its judicial reforms. The EU Commission has frozen billions in payments from the Corona Aid Fund for Poland because there are doubts about the rule of law.

Warsaw repeated demands for reparations against Berlin

Poland's relationship with its neighbor Germany is also a mess at the moment. Right at the beginning of his speech, Morawiecki could not help but refer again to his government's demands for reparations. Warsaw wants more than 1.3 trillion euros in compensation from Germany for the damage it suffered in World War II. The United States has long since made it clear to Poland that they consider this dispute between allies to be harmful.

Some observers in Warsaw have doubts about how far Poland's role, which has grown as a result of the Ukraine war, will carry. "Many foreign politicians are currently swearing that Poland's weight has increased in connection with this war," says Jerzy Haszczynski, foreign policy expert at the Rzeczpospolita newspaper. But that only refers to the aspect of defense. "What if this war is over and it turns out that not a single problem has been solved better in Poland than in Western countries?"