April jokes in Polish Foreign Policy

Poland intends to join NAFTA, not the EU

Poland is going to leave the European Union and intends to join NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) as soon as possible. A joke? Of course! An April Fool’s joke published in one of the most important Polish news web sites. But be warned! In fact, this joke is not so funny!

Polish politicians against the European Constitution

As say the news, the main reason for Poland’s eventual withdrawal from the EU is the country’s disagreement on some EU countries’ plans to alter the EU’s internal voting procedure: according to the Nice Treaty, Poland (as well as Spain) would have 27 votes in the EU Council – which is only 2 votes less than Germany or France have. However, this method of counting votes is challenged by the European Constitution. A joke? Not at all! Almost all Polish politicians (leftist and right-wing) are against the European Constitution in the form it has been drafted by the European Convent. Why? Under the Constitution draft we (Poland) would have two times less votes than Germany which would mean that we loose important veto-powers allowing us to block Council decisions.

“Nice or death”

According to the April “news”, the founder of this idea for withdrawal is Platforma Obywatelska [Citizen Platform] – a modern, liberal, strictly pro-EU party, and the party that has good chances to win the coming elections for parliament in Poland. – Funny, a paradoxical joke. What might also sound like an April joke is in fact not a joke: Jan Rokita, one of the leaders of the PO, is known for his slogan “Nice or Death!” that he first spoke out in order to encourage the Polish government to fight for the Nice Treaty. Still, his words were not meant as a joke: he made this expression during a parliament debate. All parliamentarians agreed with Rokita, and his sentence became a national slogan.

Another “no-jokes”? If you want… The idea that Poland should join NAFTA (as for the moment creating only a free trade zone between the United States, Canada and Mexico) in fact is not a fantasy of a funny journalist. It is the political party Unia Polityki Realnej (UPR) who invented and still promotes this idea. UPR is a small and very conservative party, radically oriented towards economic liberalization. UPR is a very serious party though its name (Real Politics Union) sounds a bit like a joke. Only about 3% of Poles vote for UPR, but they are well educated and rather wealthy inhabitants of big cities. As is the electorate of PO.

A well educated and rather wealthy inhabitant of a big city is a ‘natural’ user of the internet. On 1 April he or she turned on a computer and read the sentence of an anonymous spokes person of PO: “We will show to Europe what a Poles’ dignity means! We are dying because of the EU”, as Jan Rokita warned. It doesn’t take much to realize that this quotation is faked. Could you imagine a member of a modern, pro-European party talking in this nationalistic and euro-phobic tone? Many of Polish internet users obviously can!

A joke by internet users? 64% against Europe

Among internet users commenting this “news” item; you will find only 10-20 entries calling it a joke. The rest of the 313 (!) commentators are full of condemnation and (much more often)… praise for this decision by PO. Indeed, it’s not a joke that readers of this “news” actually can very well imagine a Polish withdrawal from the EU. Neither is it a joke that most of them do approve this idea! In a “funny polling” accompanying the news, 35% of 5671 users voted in favor of joining the EU, 35% for NAFTA, and 29% for “independence”. That is 64% against Europe. Sure, you can say it was just an April joke by internet users but… it really wasn’t that much of a funny joke. From this point of view, you might want to agree that the Polish acceptance of EU-adhesion in a referendum either was a mistake or simply happened by chance. Or a joke. HAHAHAHA!

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This article was posted in Best of Plotki, Online Issue III and tagged .

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