Hans Talgren: This is not one of my biggest concerns. I know that there is a lot of support for EU membership in Poland, which is one of the strongest in the whole of the EU. Stronger than Sweden and even bigger.

– I discussed this with my Polish colleague Conrad Simaski. We have addressed European issues in particular, especially the rule of law. Sweden considers it important that each Member State, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania and all other states – have independent courts bound by the rules of law.

10.10.2021, Warsaw, Protest after the decision of the Constitutional Court of Julia Prepska. Photo by Martina Nisco / Agenza Gazette

How did you assess last week’s ruling by the Constitutional Court headed by Julia Prussapska?

– His explanation is not clear. You may be worried about the scale of the art. 1, art. 2, art. 4, art. 19 [traktatu o Unii Europejskiej]…

[Na spotkaniu] I was told that this should be explained as focusing only on the structure of the legal system, the justice system and the system of appointing judges. Of course, this is also a serious problem. To be an independent judiciary, you need independent judges.

I’m still worried about this verdict. Firstly, it is due to uncertainty and, secondly, what is meant by the independence of judges.

10.10.2021, Warsaw, Protest after the decision of the Constitutional Court of Julia Prepska. Photo by Martina Nisco / Agenza Gazette

Yesterday’s demonstrations in Poland showed how many people believe that pro-union and pro-democratic forces in Europe will help us maintain the rule of law. Can we trust Sweden too?

– We support purely democratic values. Everyone in the European Union should support it, because it is the foundation on which it is built. Democracy, respect for human rights, tolerance, respect for the rights of minorities.

What else did you talk about with Minister Shimansky?

– We dedicated half of our meeting to the rule of law. The second climate, Russia and strategic autonomy. This is an idea that can be a little embarrassing for us. It is good to make sure that we are not so vulnerable and dependent on raw materials and products from other parts of the world, but we cannot trust to create and produce everything within our borders. We should be open to the rest of the world. This is how we have ensured economic growth over the years, especially in Sweden, which is dependent on foreign trade.

10/10/2021, Gdańsk, Protest after the verdict of the Constitutional Court of Julia Prussia.10/10/2021, Gdańsk, Protest after the verdict of the Constitutional Court of Julia Prussia. Photo by Bardos Pasca / Agenza Gazette

We currently have thousands of immigrants from the Middle East on the border with Belarus. The Polish government is trying to create the impression that there is a conflict between the need to protect borders and humanitarian issues. And it doesn’t have to be this way… Sweden has its own experience in dealing with a large number of asylum seekers in 2015, which is much higher than it is now in Poland…

I must say that in 2015 I did not experience what was happening on the Belarusian side. The regime there uses immigrants as part of a hybrid war…

Yes, in 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used them in a political game on Europe’s borders…

– Anyway, what the Minsk government is doing is shameful. I know that the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Elva Johansson, a Swedish woman, recently came to Poland to see what the EU can do. I look forward to her suggestions.

Can the threat from the East – I am thinking primarily of Russia – push Sweden towards NATO?

– This is the subject that divides us in the public debate. The parties that support this are in parliament. The government is against it. Honestly, there isn’t much talk right now and I don’t know if it will change before the election. I strongly believe in our policy of being outside the military alliance. We have good cooperation with NATO and bilateral cooperation with many countries, including Poland. Cooperation in the Atlantic is also very important to us.

Should we listen to the United States and join the camp that will create geopolitical and trade competition with China?

We must not form an alliance with the United States against China, but we must pay attention to what is happening in China. This is our most important economic partner. It is now the EU’s largest trading partner across the United States. However, at the same time, for the values ​​I mentioned earlier, China poses a serious challenge, such as respect for human rights. So we have to treat them as partners and competitors.

* Hans Tolkien – Swedish Minister for the European Union, Social Democrat politician. Former Swedish representative to the United Nations and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the 1970s and early 1980s, he was the spokesman for Olof Palma

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