October 04, 2016 - 9:35 AM
WARSAW, Poland - Poland won't back former Prime Minister Donald Tusk for a second term as European Council president, the head of the conservative ruling party said Tuesday.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the "Polska The Times" newspaper that Tusk might face charges in Poland, and the European Union should be aware of that. But he acknowledged that Tusk still could win a second term next year because Poland has no power to veto the EU vote, which does not require unanimity.
"I can imagine that the Polish government will not back Donald Tusk for a second term in the European Council," Kaczynski said in comments posted on the paper's website. "Tusk is a great problem."
The European Council brings together heads of state or government leaders of the member nations and defines the general political direction of the EU.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo appeared to endorse Kaczynski's comments, saying later Tuesday she "can imagine" that her Cabinet won't back Tusk in Brussels. That could weaken his position should he win a second EU leadership term.
Kaczynski also hinted he does not consider Tusk's being in Brussels as an asset for Poland and said it did not help in Warsaw's current policy standoff with the EU.
The issue with Tusk is linked to the 2010 death of President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other public figures in a plane crash in Russia.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the late president's twin brother, blames Tusk, Poland's prime minister at the time, with neglecting the president's security amid a simmering political conflict between them. The president and prime minister represented opposing parties.
Tusk denies any responsibility and says he is ready to testify as a witness in ongoing investigations.
"I never had, I don't have now, and I never will have on any matter the support of (the ruling Law and Justice party.) And I can live with it," he said in April.
During the 11-month rule of Kaczynski's Law and Justice party, new investigations have been opened into the crash by prosecutors and by a special parliamentary commission, pushing assassination and explosion theories.
It isn't clear when the work will be finished, but the investigations so far have not yielded any significant new evidence.
Polish and Russian commissions have blamed the crash on human error in conditions of poor visibility. The Russian commission additionally blamed pressure from passengers on the crew to land, despite the risk.
This story has been corrected to give the name of the prime minister as Beata Szydlo, not Beat.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016