Polish President Lech Kaczynski Dies - April, 2010

What president Lech Kaczynski essentially represented in Poland was a political culture that was unconditionally and unabashedly anti-Russian and a political culture that was unconditionally and unabashedly pro-American. He was in strong favor of NATO expansion into eastern Europe, he was in strong favor of Washington's so-called "missile defense shield" in Europe. He was also despised by a growing number of Poles. Now, he is dead and out of the political equation in Warsaw. And Saakashvili, Kaczynski's "friend", looks like he is not too far behind. Below is an interview Saakashvili just gave CNN. First, it was his bloody debacle in 2008. Then, there were the revolutions that changed the political face of Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. And now, after the sudden death of his friend, Washington's stooge in Poland, the "political corps" in Tbilisi may start to realize that his days are numbered as well.


Obituary: Anti-Communist Fighter And President Lech Kaczynski Dies Aged 60


To many Poles, Lech Kaczynski, who has died in a plane crash at the age of 60, was the epitome of steadfastness. He was a dedicated Catholic and staunch advocate of moral clarity in public life. But to others, his socially conservative opinions were out of step with a modern Poland. It was acting where he first found fame, when as a child he starred with his twin brother Jaroslaw in a popular film, “The Two Who Stole The Moon.” But it was not acting that became his true vocation. Living under the repressive system of communism, Kaczynski decided to devote his life to politics by joining the ranks of the democratic opposition. He completed his higher education at the faculty of law and administration at the University of Warsaw and defended his doctoral dissertation in labor law in 1980.

When in December 1981 the communist regime declared martial law to crack down on the pro-democracy movement, Kaczynski was among those interned for his involvement in the Solidarity organization, where he served as an adviser to a strike committee. He spent almost one year in an internment camp. As soon as he was released, he returned to Solidarity and resumed his underground struggle against the draconian restrictions on civil liberties. In 1989, Kaczynski participated in the peaceful negotiations between the weakening regime and the democratic opposition known as “the round table talks,” which eventually triggered the slow demise of the communist system.

Vocal Kremlin Critic

In a free Poland, he continued his efforts to build a country where the Solidarity principles he staunchly stood up for would be firmly entrenched in public life. His political career developed at full speed. He successively served as a senator, president of the Supreme Chamber of Control, justice minister, Warsaw mayor, deputy, and finally, president. Together with his twin brother he founded a right-wing conservative party, the Law and Justice party. He was not always loved by everyone and attracted as many supporters as enemies. His honesty and steadfastness, however, were rarely questioned even by his most bitter political opponents.

When he was elected president in 2005, one year later the Law and Justice party led by his brother won the parliamentary elections. For a year the two twins shared power in Poland. They soon advocated the establishment of a “Fourth Republic of Poland,” which they said would bring about social justice, greater morality, and clarity in public life. As president, Kaczynski played an active role in boosting Poland's eastern policy. He strongly supported NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine and was a vocal critic of the Kremlin. To demonstrate his solidarity with Georgia when the country was fighting a bitter war with Russia in 2008, he flew to Tbilisi to offer his support and assistance. Such positions would often land him in trouble with some European Union leaders, who feared antagonizing Russia. But Kaczynski was ready to keep on fighting. In the run-up to an election due this fall, he was expected to announce his decision to run again for president.

Kaczynski Often a Source of Tension Within E.U.

Lech Kaczynski, the president of Poland, died Saturday after his plane crashed on route to Katyn, in western Russia, where he was due to commemorate the murder 70 years ago of thousands of Polish officers, according to the Polish foreign ministry. He was 60 years old. Mr. Kaczynski was elected president in 2005 as his twin brother, Jaroslaw, was swept into power as leader of the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice government. This unique constellation of power, led by identical twins, often put Poland on a collision course with its European Union partners and Russia. As soon as he took office in the presidential headquarters in the center of Warsaw, Mr. Kaczynski forged very close relations with Ukraine and Georgia, determined to bring them closer to NATO and eventually have them admitted to the American-led military organization. But his staunch defense of these two countries often upset leading members of the E.U., especially Germany, which was concerned that an expanded NATO would threaten Russia, or lead to new East-West tensions. Mr. Kaczynski, however, believed passionately that a strong NATO would prevent Russia from reasserting its influence over Eastern and Central Europe.

When Poland joined NATO in 1999, becoming with Hungary and the Czech Republic part of the first bloc of former communist countries to join the Alliance, the move increased Poland’s sense of security. “It was obvious to us that this was the only tough security structure there was in the world and that the membership of NATO would only mean benefits for Poland,” Mr. Kaczynski told the International Herald Tribune in an interview. But Mr. Kaczynski said that did not mean that Russia’s leaders had “abandoned their ideas to regain influence, like using natural resources, natural gas as a weapon and trying to influence politicians. “Indeed, back in the early 1990s, my impression was that Poland’s entry into NATO would finally resolve those questions. And here I must admit I was wrong.” Mr. Kaczynski’s deeply ingrained suspicion of Russia, and of Germany’s close relationship with it, often created tensions among Warsaw, Berlin and Moscow.

He lobbied hard for the United States to deploy part of its controversial anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland, believing it would add to Poland’s security vis-à-vis Russia. Such plans, supported by President George W. Bush, were scaled back by President Obama. He was also much more comfortable dealing with the U.S. than the E.U., which Poland joined in 2004. Indeed, Mr. Kaczynski was regarded as a skeptic of the union. He was determined to protect Poland’s sovereignty against Brussels but equally determined, as a devout Catholic, to protect Poland’s traditional and conservative values. His suspicions of Russia and Germany and the E.U. had much to do with Mr. Kaczynski’s own life. His father Rajmund, an engineer, and his mother, Jadwiga, who studied linguistics, had been active in the Polish resistance against the Nazis. He and his brother were born on June 18, 1949, when Warsaw was in ruins.

They both joined the underground Solidarity movement during the 1980s and were close, at first, to Lech Walesa, the leader of Solidarity and who was later elected president. But the Kaczynskis fell out with the Solidarity movement during the 1990s, claiming that the intellectuals, led by Adam Michnik, had made too many compromises with former communists and the secret police. While the Kaczynski twins wanted a complete break with the past by vetting the civil service and the media, other Solidarity officials opted for compromise. They attempted to embark on such a policy once Lech became president and Jaroslaw, leader of the Law and Justice Party, became prime minister in 2005.
Mr. Kaczynski was due to stand again for president later this year.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/world/europe/11kaczynski.html

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