With their attacks against media, Andrzej Duda and his staffers caused an international stir. While the American ambassador to Poland openly criticizes Law and Justice (PiS), the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is holding off the arrival of Germany's new Head of Mission in Warsaw.
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Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, Germany’s newly appointed ambassador to Poland, was supposed to arrive in Warsaw last week. Filling the vacancy at a key diplomatic post was a time-sensitive issue, initially planned to be finalized before Germany takes over the EU Council presidency on July 1.

The new ambassador is still waiting for a green light. Reason? Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t yet issue a permission to receive the diplomat, the so-called agrément.- We filed the necessary paperwork days ago. The messages we received on Thursday assured us that everything is being finalized and that the new ambassador can arrive in Warsaw already this weekend – our source at the German Foreign Service told us.

German interference

On Friday, however, the tabloid “Fakt” (owned by a German-Swiss-American corporation) published an article vividly describing how a child molester, pardoned by president Andrzej Duda, abused his own daughter. Since then, it turned out that the agrément for mr. Freytag von Loringhoven is being held off and his arrival in Warsaw cannot take place.

Law and Justice (PiS) was infuriated. Duda’s campaign manager Adam Bielan called on the German ambassador to “intervene on this issue”. – We do not wish any foreign interference in our election- he said. President Duda, meanwhile, rumbled about German meddling at a campaign rally in Bolesławiec in south-western Poland- Germans want to elect our president for us? That’s just despicable- He even singled out Philipp Fritz, the Warsaw correspondent for “Die Welt”. Mr. Fritz’s employer and Reporters Without Borders, an NGO promoting freedom of speech, both leaped to his defence.

Germany’s Federal Foreign Office blames the delay to issue an agrément on bureaucracy and the coronavirus pandemic. At least officially. –It’s not hard not to connect the dots, but we’re patiently waiting for a green light from Poland- said our source in Germany. The German government refuses to comment. Its press secretary only emphasized that German media is independent, and the government has no control over its doings and content.

And a U.S. one too

The US government, however, was far more outspoken. Georgette Mosbacher, the American ambassador to Poland, stepped in after EU MP and former press secretary of Law and Justice Beata Mazurek accused the commercial broadcaster TVN of having ties to the now disbanded Polish Military Intelligence Services (WSI).

- Shame on you for perpetuating what you know is an absolute lie by suggesting that TVN is WSI. This is beneath a representative of the Polish people- we read in her not very diplomatic Tweet.

Defending her position, Mazurek referred to Antoni Macierewicz who oversaw the disbanding of the intelligence agency during the first government of Law and Justice between 2005-2007.

It’s not the first time when American diplomacy is stepping in to defend media freedom in Poland. Ambassador Mosbacher wrote a critical letter to Prime Minister Morawiecki after it turned out that the reporters who covered neo-Nazis celebrating Hitler’s birthday were put under the surveillance of Poland’s Domestic Counter-Intelligence Agency (ABW). In December 2017, the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) fined the commercial broadcaster TVN24 for an allegedly untruthful coverage of protests in front of the Polish parliament. The fine was cancelled after an intervention by the US Department of State.

Clearly appalled, several Law and Justice politicians responded to Ms. Mosbacher’s Tweet. Even the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paweł Jabłoński, commented her message. – Even though many people prefer to act as if it weren’t true, it’s simply a matter of fact that the Soviet and post-Soviet intelligence agencies had a say in establishing the ITI Group, the media company that owns TVN- he Tweeted.


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