FelietonySchetyna as foreign minister: a disaster in the making

Schetyna as foreign minister: a disaster in the making

Grzegorz Schetyna
Grzegorz Schetyna
Dodano
Donald Tusk's poor command of English has been one of the most debated issues in the Polish media since he was nominated as next president of the European Council. Now the linguistic skills of another politician - the new Polish foreign minister - arouse similar emotions. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but Grzegorz Schetyna doesn't speak English, does he?" - I asked one of his fellow party members. "He definitely does" - he answered with a giggle. "He can order two beers in a pub. But not three, I suppose".

Upon leaving the post, Donald Tusk single-handedly anointed Ewa Kopacz, speaker of the Diet and former health minister, as his successor. She is only the second woman to become Poland's prime minister and her appointment caused some stir. However Schetyna's rise is even more sensational: when word leaked that he would be Kopacz's pick for one of the most crucial jobs in her cabinet, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Not only because of Schetyna's I-would-like-to-have-a-beer level of English, but also because of his complicated relationship (to put it mildly) with the outgoing premier.

Former interior minister, speaker of the Diet (he preceded Kopacz), and current head of foreign affairs committe (largely a ceremonial post), Schetyna is to Mr. Tusk what Professor Moriarty was to Sherlock Holmes. An archenemy.

Tusk is best known for his expertise in political murders, Borgia-style. He has been eliminating his opponents inside the Civic Platform for years, usually in silk gloves. Schetyna is the last one standing. Tusk was stripping him of duties and prerogatives, slowly but consistently, pushing him gently down the power ladder. A meticulously planned and masterfully executed assassination.

Schetyna managed to keep a platoon of loyalists around him, but he was irreversibly losing influence. Last year he was considering running for party leadership but eventually retreated. Schetyna was weak but not stupid - challenging Tusk would have probably ended up in another humiliation.

Now Schetyna is clawing back from the brink. Why did Kopacz, a staunch Tusk loyalist, reach out to Tusk's greatest foe? Speculations abound. First possible explanation: she just wanted to prove she wouldn't play the role of a puppet steered by Tusk directly from Brussels. Another one: she was blackmailed by Schetyna's faction, whose members threatened to abstain in the confidence vote unless their boss was rewarded with something juicy. That would be potentially lethal for Kopacz and the Civic Platform, as the ruling coalition (the Peasants' Party being the junior partner) is condemned to a wafer-thin majority in the lower house.

And finally the third scenario: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs might be actually a trap for Mr. Schetyna. Diplomacy is not his forte. He has no international experience, no vision and he doesn't speak English. He has never said or written anything worth mentioning - either on Poland's position in Europe, NATO's future or the Russo-Ukrainian war. "He is not even particularly interested in this stuff" - says a Civic Platform politician. Sooner or later Kopacz would find a pretext to give him a sack, piercing his chest with a wooden stake. For good.

Classical party politics. Dirty and repugnant but unavoidable in any democracy. If only we had the benefit of living far away from Russia and Ukraine...

***

Playing this kind of games, especially in such turbulent times, is irresponsible and dangerous. Schetyna is no match for Kerry, Steinmeier or Fabius. Pitting him against Lavrov sounds like a morbid joke. Believe me, Federica Mogherini is a Kissinger in comparison.

Schetyna will now succeed Radek Sikorski. I've been mostly critical of the latter's performance, his bloated narcissism and incredible gullibility. Having said this, I have to confess I already miss him. Schetyna's appointment is a confusing signal for our allies. They must be scratching their heads: "Poles want to have more say in Europe, don't they? Then why are they doing this?".

Sikorski was at least liked and respected by foreign journalists. Schetyna is an unknown unknown. A defenseless kitten among bloodthirsty orks. If this is not a recipe for disaster, what is?

foto:wiki

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