Thousands gather in Warsaw to ‘defend Poland’s membership in EU’

According to the organisers, 80,000-100,000 people gathered on Sunday evening at Warsaw’s Castle Square for a demonstration in defence of Poland’s presence in the European Union. In opposition to the event, a counter demonstration organised by the nationalist milieu also took place.

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Donald Tusk, the head of the Civic Platform (PO), the largest Polish opposition party, called for participation in the event in response to Thursday’s judgment of the Constitutional Court stating that several articles of the EU treaties were inconsistent with the Polish Constitution.

“I call on all those who want to defend European Poland, on Sunday at Castle Square in Warsaw, 6 pm. Only together we can stop them,” he wrote on social media on Thursday.

“My name is Donald Tusk, I am a Pole, whom European countries chose seven years ago as their head, head of the European Council. They chose me out of respect for Poland, they chose me out of respect for our difficult and beautiful road to independence, to Europe. Out of respect for you,” Mr Tusk began his speech during the demonstration.

“We want an independent Poland, we want a democratic Poland, we want a law-abiding Poland, we want an honest Poland,” he appealed.

The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, took the floor after the leader of the PO.

“We will not allow ourselves to be moved out of the European Union, because the Union is first and foremost security. Anyone who wants a weak European Union does not want a strong Poland, because a strong Union is a strong Poland,” he stressed.

“There are plenty of those who try to divide us, who try to teach us patriotism, who really want to lead us to the East. Remember what we shouted during the election campaign? We are fed up with such people!,” Mr Trzaskowski emphasised.

The assembly was also attended by numerous opposition politicians, such as Robert Biedroń - one of the leaders of the Left and Tomasz Grodzki, the speaker of the Senate as well as numerous representatives of the opposition circles, such as Marta Lempart - the leader of the Women’s Strike, Jerzy Owsiak - the leader of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (WOŚP) and Jakub Karyś - head of the Democracy Defense Committee (KOD).

The demonstrations culminated in the participants singing “Ode to Joy” - the European Union’s anthem.

In response to the event, national circles organised a counter-demonstration to silence the speeches of the opposition leaders, but it was small in size.

On Thursday, Poland’s top Constitutional Court (TK) issued a judgment on the principle of the supremacy of EU law over national law. The judges ruled that several articles of the EU treaties were inconsistent with the Polish Constitution, questioning the primacy of European Union legislation. The ruling aroused objection from the opposition which accused the ruling coalition of striving to move Poland out of the EU.