Rafał Trzaskowski surprised with PiS bringing up Jewish property into campaign 16.06.2020, written by Łukasz Bejm
Civic Coalition presidential candidate, mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, said on Tuesday he was surprised that the ruling PiS party and state-controlled Polish Television (TVP) would use such delicate issue as Jewish property restitution in the election campaign.
Polish public television has raised the sensitive issue of Jewish property restitution during the country’s presidential campaign by accusing the main opposition candidate, Rafał Trzaskowski, of putting foreign interests first.
During a conference on Tuesday, a foreign journalists asked Trzaskowski about the story ran on Sunday by the prime time news show „Wiadomości” on state-owned TVP.
The story suggested that Trzaskowski, presidential candidate of the centrist Civic Platform (PO), would use public money to compensate Jews for their losses and fail to defend national interests if he beat the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, in the June 28 vote. President Duda is an ally of the ruling PiS party, led by chairman Jarosław Kaczyński.
TVP quoted a 2015 interview with Trzaskowski saying Poland „needs to talk with Jewish communities and try to solve this problem (of property restitution)”. It also suggested Trzaskowski’s „thinking is not based on Polish interests”. Previously, the show has said Trzaskowski has close ties to George Soros, the billionaire financier who supports liberal causes in eastern Europe.
Warsaw mayor replied in English that he was surprised that PiS and TVP would include such delicate topics in the presidential campaign. He added that such issues, by all means, should be discussed, taking into account Polish interests as well, but it should be done without generating further problems.
Poland was home to one of the world’s biggest Jewish communities until it was almost entirely wiped out during World War Two by the Nazi Germany who set up death camps such as Auschwitz on Polish territory.
Jewish former property owners and their descendants have been campaigning for compensation since the fall of communism in 1989. But the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) says Poland itself was also a victim of Nazi Germany and that it is for Berlin to compensate former Polish Jews.
„(Trzaskowski) is a man (…) who represents foreign interests in our country,” PiS MP Arkadiusz Mularczyk told Reuters, adding that the opposition candidate took „his mandate” from Berlin or Brussels and would not stand up for Polish interests.
A spokesman for Civic Platform (the largest party of the Civic Coalition) said it was difficult to comment on such „absurdities”. „Public television in Poland is more similar to public television in Russia or Belarus than to public television in a democratic country,” said Jan Grabiec. Rafał Trzaskowski has said he will reform TVP if he wins the presidency.