Interview with Ruch Narodowy (RN) on National Identity

Do national and ethnic minorities in Poland pose a threat to social cohesion?

I agree with this statement only partly. In general, minorities can be a threat. In Poland, however, minorities do not represent a large part of the society, so they are not a real threat.

Should education shaping national and patriotic attitudes be compulsory in primary and secondary schools?

Yes, I totally agree. Although there is some nuance here. Polish people are against state having the final word in matters of education and according to them it is up to parents to shape the curriculum. However, this group is in favour of educating in fields of national and patriotic attitudes and the community supports the idea.

What about Catholic Church? Should Catholic Church in any way support building of national identity?

By national tradition, which is the tradition that we represent, it is seen as a moral pillar of the national culture. In our opinion, it should not play a political role and engage in matters of governance and law. It should however play a role of a guardian of the moral, providing guidance in shaping social policy and moral foundations of law – and thus also in building of national identity.

In comparison with Law and Justice (PiS), a party which strongly advocates for a leading role of a Catholic Church, what is the position of your party?

It is just an illusion that the PiS advocates for a leading role of the Church. It is seen as such by part of the society and journalists, but such perceptions are not based on reality. The leader of PiS is rather liberal in his heart. In the debate about whether to make protection of an unborn life constitutional, Jarosław Kaczynski was against, whereas our party was in favour. Only verbally they stand for the rule of law based on catholic ethics, but in practice they are guided by opinion polls. This largely reflects the position of the leader, as members of Law and Justice are often more Catholic, although obviously not all of them.

That means that your party advocates for a right based on catholic ethic not just in verbal terms, but also in reality?

Yes, of course.

Should Poland’s conditions for granting citizenship be simplified?

That is a tough question. Yes and no. Yes for Poles, not for foreigners. In Poland we have a very weak policy of repatriationwhen it comes to Poles deported to the East. They have no easy opportunity to return to Poland and gain the citizenship. The procedures are difficult and expensive. In such cases, therefore, simplification of procedures would be desirable. On the other hand, Poland is generous in granting citizenship for example to Israelis. Polish Embassy in Israel have granted thousands of such documents to people who do not speak Polish and have almost nothing in common with Poland, except relying on their ancestors. A great part of these people do not want to move here and they just want the citizenship for the case of war in the Middle East. It is necessary to look at the issue broadly. Regarding immigration, one has to be careful. I advocate here for a restrictive immigration policy and not granting citizenship to people who do not know Polish language and culture.

Does that mean that you oppose the EU immigration policy?

Yes, we oppose the EU immigration policy as well as the fact that the EU obliges its member states to accept a high amount of immigrants. We think that the EU immigration policy is far too liberal. But at the moment we are not against the freedom of movement within the territory of the Union, as long as the immigrants come mainly to the rich countries and not to Poland.

Should the EU strive for a full political integration in the frame of federation?

I totally disagree. In this regard my views are similar to that of Václav Klaus. Europe of nations does not mean Europe in which the states do not cooperate, although conditions of that cooperation would be different, not necessarily organized by Brussels. Cooperation may take place also on intergovernmental basis.

Are you totally against current EU policies?

No, we do not oppose drawing resources from the EU funds. These resources can compensate for some differences in development, they are however no guarantees of economic policies or more prosperity. Therefore we are sceptical to the EU approach but also pragmatic.

Should the Polish state take any action to commemorate the Smolensk disaster?

Yes. Fortunately, nobody from our party was on the board of the plane to Smolensk. In our opinion, before commemorating this event, it is necessary to come up with an explanation of what actually happened there. The investigation still has not been closed, most of the evidence is still on the Russian side. The Russians should be urged to make the evidence available and explain the whole thing. A commemoration has partly been taking place already, a lot of monuments have been built and there were a number of conferences, lots of publications and films. The role of the state in this is just partial, as lot of things has already been done in this matter. There still remains the controversial issue of placing the monument in Warsaw. The Civic Platform is against, PiS is in favour – in this area the state policy actually fails. Building such a monument would not hurt anyone, while some people would feel that their sensitivity has been respected.

But what about the Smolensk Cross in Warsaw? Should such a monument have a Catholic connotation?

That is a very controversial issue. There was a generally accepted intention of a commemorative monument on the place where the cross had been built, but the government decided for just a small plaque there. I would be in favour of the cross to be there permanently, but as it is also a question of aesthetics – of including this kind of monument to the architectural landscape of Cracow suburbs.

Should a political party cooperate with interest group, regardless of their political views, as long as they represent a significant part of the population?

I do not agree. In our opinion, the key point is not whether someone represents a significant or insignificant part of society. The point is if the particular group represents a national interest. We may differ from a particular group in our view at some things, like we do e.g. with the Left, but as long as we have a common conviction about the national interest, the cooperation is beneficial, regardless of the particular views. On the other hand, the mere fact that someone represents a significant part of the population does not mean a prerequisite for cooperation. For example, a few years ago, most of the public was in favour of joining the Euro zone. Now, after the crisis is over, they are against. It turns out that we have had a better understanding of the problem, since now most of the society thinks the same.

Should the Polish state establish contacts with Poles living abroad and provide them with opportunities to maintain contact with their homeland?

Yes, I totally agree. This topic is one of our main priorities. We want to develop a discussion about themes related to the Poles living in the border areas, as well as the ones who emigrated. In this case the governing party takes some action, but not a consistent one. Other parties and groups actually ignore the issue.

Should there be a special relationship of Poland and the Poles living in Ukraine, in the area of former borders?

Of course, this should be made an element of state policy. Those who left because of economic reasons did so voluntarily, whereas those living in borderland got out of Poland as a result of geopolitical changes. Also, do not forget that these lands are important to us. From a historical perspective, cities in the East such as Lviv and Vilnius make the pillars o Polish culture and presence of Poles in this area is therefore crucial to our national identity. The Poles who remained outside for various reasons faced a difficult situation. In Lithuania, the government has been afraid of the Polish minority as a significant political force. In Belarus, Poles represent a potential democratic political opposition for president Lukashenko. In Ukraine there is poverty and also an anti-Polish nationalism, which is still very strong. Each of these communities requires an individual approach which differs from the one applied to the Polish emigration to Britain.

Do you think that Poland should pursue a policy in some respect analogous to the actions of the Hungarian government related to integration of ethnic minorities in Slovakia or Slovenia?

Yes, although I am not able to compare the tools Hungarians use to the ones that we have at our disposal, like for example the Karta Polaka (“Pole’s Card”). I do not know the Hungarian legislation in detail, so I do not want to assess it. Poland applies the Card, however I think that we should go further, to allow repatriation and pursue a more assertive policy towards the countries with Polish minorities. After 1989 Poland sacrificed the interests of the Polish communities in Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus to build coalitions with those countries and to help the democratization of Belarus. So far, attempts to conduct such a policy have failed, for various reasons. Interests of Polish minorities were sacrificed at that time and in our opinion this was a mistake.

With regard to the situation in Ukraine: What do you think about accusations related to the opposition and its collaboration with the Ukrainian nationalists and about the anti-Polish nationalism?

Those are not accusations, those are facts. A part of the Ukrainian opposition activists are Ukrainian nationalists of, historically speaking, anti-Polish attitude. They seem to have been accepted by the rest of the opposition and this is a problem for us. According to recent information, the new head of the Lviv region is a member of the Freedom Party, which takes an open anti-Polish stance. One of the first actions of the revolutionary government was to set aside the language law, although the president did not sign the bill. But obviously there are chauvinistic sentiments present in Ukraine which cannot be ignored. We are paying attention to that.

Should the Polish foreign policy towards Russia be subordinated to the economic interests?

I do not agree. According to our view, foreign policy is comprehensive. That means that creating foreign policy just on basis of economy would be naive. Economy is important, but equally important is defence and political relations, which shape the international order. In addition, historical policy issues are also important and connected to the issues of national prestige and identity  and they help to explain historical reasons. We believe that these issues should be considered together. Therefore, economic policy is not the primary one and also energy and security policy, as well as some unresolved historical issues are important.

Does the European banking union threaten the Polish national sovereignty? If so, what constitutes the threat?

There are two possible solutions of banking supervision in Europe. The first is national supervision; the other is supervision on the European level. The banking union is an attempt to create a single supervision agency. From our perspective this is a wrong solution. We believe that the states should exercise supervision over their financial policies themselves under all conditions and we strongly emphasize the political dimension. Another thing is that it is not at all certain whether the macro supervision is actually more efficient than the state supervision. Financial markets of the countries are diverse and creation of a single EU supervisory framework can be problematic. In our view, rules of such supervision would be heavily influenced by the strong countries of Western Europe, whereas we as a smaller state would be automatically dependent on their decision, which we would not have a possibility to impact. The last important argument is that in the crisis, our financial regulatory system has worked well, while the Western ones did not. The Banking Union makes sense for the Euro zone, but not for us. Poland should remain outside the Euro zone and outside the banking union.

To what extent should aspirations to autonomy be supported on the basis of a sense of regional identity, like in the case of Silesia?

We believe in preserving national identity, but we are against the politicization of the identity and putting it in opposition to the nation state. The Silesian Autonomy Movement is trying to forge a regional identity in a political movement, artificially establishing a new nation. As a group we are indeed part of the political tradition, since the historic National Movement activists were authors of separation of Silesia. Now, however, we are against posing to opposition to the whole nation and all kinds of separatist tendencies.

The European Parliament elections are approaching. Do you cooperate with other political parties of nationalist profile on the European level?

We cooperate closely with Jobbik. We also had contacts with some groups from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who were present on the celebrations on the 11th November. Ideologically we are surely close to some movements in Western Europe, such as the National Front in France. The National Front, however, is on a different stage of development and much stronger than us, so the contacts are not very intense. With the British National Party it is also not the case, as their nationalism is primitive and they accentuate anti-Polish stances.

What about the German NPD?

With the German nationalists we definitely do not have close relations, since they have strong anti-Polish tendencies. Apart from that, German nationalism is marginal. We do not seek contacts there. We are watching the new initiative of Alternative for Germany (AFD) with curiosity, as it seems that it might have a chance to get in the European Parliament, especially after the German Constitutional Court’s ruling abolished the electoral threshold.

Do you cooperate with other nationalist groups on basis of ideology or matters relating to specific program features?

It is a cooperation based mainly on ideological similarities, a strong euroscepticism, accentuating national interest rather than specific program solutions. We are conservative on many issues and opposed to cultural deflection to the left.

What are the priorities of your group in the EP elections?

There are five points that we have listed as our priorities in relation to European policies: Firstly, we oppose federalization of Europe in both economic and political area. Secondly, we oppose importing leftist ideologies, such as gender ideology, ideology of LGBT, socialism etc., to Poland. Furthermore, we are against implementation of the energy packet in Poland, which we believe is harmful to the Polish economy. The fourth point is promotion of the European forum of Polish history, highlighting the anniversaries of the end of World War II etc. The last point is care for Poles abroad.

Do you oppose possible foreign investment in Poland?

We do not oppose foreign investment. We are however against abusing Polish industrial infrastructure and against dominance of the Western networks in trade. We stand for the protection of the Polish main strategic industrial fields. We believe that the privatization has gone too far and the more sensitive sectors of Polish economy should be protected.

In case you enter the Polish parliament, who on the current political scene could be your partner?

I think that in the proportional multi-party political system it is not possible to exclude anyone. But there are parties from whom we differ radically, such as the Palikot Movement. There are movements that we do not particularly like, like e.g. the Civic Platform or the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), but that does not preclude a potential cooperation on a particular project. I was in Parliament and I know that sometimes the votes are distributed in various ways.

Could you possibly join the Jaroslaw Gowin’s “Poland Together”?

Some elements in their program deserve attention but we do not know if they will be capable of finding their place in politics, so we do not relate very much to them.

 

Krzysztof Bosak (born 1982) is a Polish politician. In period 2005-2006 he was the president of Młodzież Wszechpolska (All- Polish Youth).  He was a member of the Polish Parliament in the Fifth term. In 2001 he joined the League of Polish Families (LPR). In the parliamentary elections of 2005 he gained a parliamentary seat on behalf of the party and held the position of the Secretary of the Sejm. In 2008 he resigned from the membership in the LPR and withdrew from politics. In December 2012 he joined the activities of the National Movement (RN), an informal organization aiming at uniting national right in Poland. At the beginning of 2013 he became member of the organization’s decision making body. In 2014 he has been chosen to be the National Movement’s candidate in the elections to the European Parliament.