Poland needs a national strategy
Fr Ireneusz Skubis talks to Marek Jurek, a presidential candidate, the leader of the Right of the Republic, former Parliament Speaker.
Fr Ireneusz Skubis: – Please forgive me but I want to return to the tragedy that shook Poland, to the crash of the plane with the President of the Republic of Poland and his Wife as well as many of your colleagues and fiends on board. What thoughts did you have then?
Marek Jurek: – At first, an extraordinary shock. The President’s death was a big blow but the death of every president has a heroic dimension. After several minutes there were more details showing how big the tragedy was. Maria Kaczynska died with her husband. I was very much moved by the death of my rival in race for president Jerzy Szmajdzinski. I was to have a debate with him and the chair he was to sit is empty and will remain empty. I am always impressed by the death of non-believers. We must especially remember about them. My friends lost their lives, including Aram Rybicki, with whom I had fierce disputes and with whom I founded the Young Poland Movement thirty years ago. Those whom I had seen 48 hours earlier died – Janusz Kochanowski and Janusz Kurtyka. Teresa Walewska-Przyjalkowska, with whom I participated at the session about Katyn half a month earlier, died as well.
– This new situation orders us to define certain fundamental concepts, which we should use building again. What does the Polish state mean for you?
– Thanks to the state we are fully a nation: state is what house is for family and fitness for organism. It is sovereign power and system of institutions through which the nation acts and can control its fate. Without the state the nation will never guarantee common good, peace and rights for all people in a complete way. The tragedy at Smolensk has shown us how much the lives of people and nations depend on God and how fragile life is. One cannot live as if God does not exist. And the state exists to protect people.
The mourning after the crash showed community: with the dead (communion of saints) and between us. We have the right to hope that this mourning will cleanse our patriotism, that we will treat the state as common good, appreciate freedom received from God and the possibility to experience the community of the nation as a community of fate. Two presidents, two presidential candidates, politicians from various parties and first of all, Poles belonging to all social strata, both people of public sphere and Poles representing civil society and tradition – members of the Katyn families who were going to the graves of their grandfathers, parents and the dearest.
– It was said that we had ‘national retreat’. Do you agree with this definition?
– I had such an impression in two aspects. Firstly, retreat is always the time (at least partly) of exclusion from current life. After the crash at Smolensk the noise of current politics stopped almost completely. Secondly, retreat is the time of learning, hearing teachings flowing from the liturgy and experiencing teachings directly. During those April days many friends of mine told me that they woke up in the morning, hearing melodies and mournful songs in their hearts. And the sermons during the funerals had a strong retreat accent showing what was stable and important in life. I think that for many non-believers it was a time of conversion. The answer to the most important question: was it a time of conversion for us, as a nation will be answered with time.
– You are a presidential candidate. What are your thoughts and intentions? What would you like to tell your voters?
– When I decided to take part in the presidential campaign, in February, I was convinced that Poland needed a presidency focused on the matters that would shape her future, the life of our nation and not the competition of political parties. Today the necessity to focus on what is really important, what is stable, has become even more obvious.
Above all, the rights of the family because Poland’s future goes through families. In our country 70% of children are born in 30% of poorer families. These families must realise that Poland supports them and works in the spirit of solidarity with them in the tax system, matters concenring maternity as well as educational and cultural policies. It is Poland’s interests that a large number (as many as possible) of families fulfil parental and educational tasks best. Today the demographic challenge is most important to Poland. A warning is the debate of lengthening working life, evoked under the pretext that the Polish society is aging. We must reverse this tendency.
Demography is the basis; the horizon is Poland in the world and first of all, in Europe. Poland needn’t choose between helpless protests and helpless saying yes in the European forum. We should shape Europe in all dimensions, organise support for our demands, shape the strong Christian opinion (promoting the civilisation of life, family rights, freedom of religion), build Central-Eastern solidarity, energetic solidarity, collaboration between nations that have preserved a considerable share of agriculture in economy. The aim is to build international order in which independent Poland will be able to develop well.
– For long the foundation of your activities has been the defence of human rights, especially the right to life.
– The active politics concerning human rights has a special meaning. Poland as the Homeland of John Paul II has been called to launch a debate about human rights. These rights include first of all the right to life, family rights, freedom of religion. But these principles have been regularly undermined in Europe.
The matter that is especially important to Poland’s economic future is the preservation of our national currency. Our currency is a necessary tool of competitiveness of our economy in the open European market. We cannot give it up.
We should also cure our politics, build in it an area for principles, convictions and responsibility. Politicians cannot represent local interests, supporting the propaganda of their parties in all issues of national politics. Even in the most important national moments the Polish politics lacked people who would demand from their parties the realisation of public good when it was forgotten. At the most, politicians are satisfied with the right that from time to time they can show their personal views while voting in the Parliament. But as a rule they even cannot do that. And responsibility means something more. It is not hiding behind your own personal convictions but doing your best so that public good controls the politics of the state. That’s why I support the idea to introduce majority election system in one-mandate constituencies. And I want to stop the present system of financing political parties.
– Can you see the chance to have the Polish political life healed permanently?
– I want to do my best to guarantee seriousness to the state and dignity to political life. The great stir we experienced will yield fruit if politics focuses on common good of the nation, if it focuses on the big national challenges and not on seeking moral legitimacy in someone else’s mistakes, in repeating: ‘others are worse.’
Poland needs a presidency that will go beyond the quarrels between the government and the opposition. This is the constitutional role of president. President must have a clear stand in every issue that is the subject of dispute between the government and the opposition and his stand cannot be bias. President must look ahead so that the main challenges – demographic, European, repair of public life, decisions concerning the national currency – were not the subject of political quarrels. Besides in disputes it is reasons and arguments that should be decisive. That’s why president must induce the government and the opposition to conduct conversations on concrete subjects, to take into account values and facts. And to think about future.
Today we all are concerned about the flood. But when it is over we need a national anti-flood plan. We must use the nearest future to work out protection of people when the nature again tests our solidarity and responsibility. President should induce the main political powers to public agreement (similar to the expenses for defence) concerning regular, yearly 1.5-2 billion zloty in the next decade to build a flood-control system. This money cannot be a prey during next ‘electoral’ budgets, i.e. transferring means for popular short-term aims. Poland needs a new national strategy – and president should be its guarantor.