The Polish ambassador to the Czech Republic was dismissed by Prime Minister Morawiecki for speaking the truth about Turów. Mirosław Jasiński said the conflict around the opencast was caused by the "arrogance of certain people". "First of all, the management of the mine is guilty. Then there is the PGE management, and light-years away ministries and the prime minister."
“Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is making a mistake by dismissing Mirosław Jasiński. Thanks to his open and sincere approach and long-standing good relations with Czech politicians, he is the one who could help bring about a settlement in the Turów mine case and stop the penalties being calculated by the CJEU. Therefore, we have grounds to assume that the interview was an element of the diplomatic strategy leading to the conclusion of this agreement,” comments Radosław Gawlik, President of EKO-UNIA Association.
“The Polish Prime Minister prefers to flatter the "coal patriotism" instead of trying to win the Turów issue on the Czech, EU and ... Polish arena,” adds Gawlik. “The government's policy, instead of aiming to use around PLN 1 billion of just transition fund to restructure the Bogatynia-Zgorzelec region, has led to a fine of more than PLN 250 million to the EU budget for not respecting the CJEU ruling. Therefore, Ambassador Jasiński should continue reaching a settlement with the Czech Republic.
Morawiecki's short memory
Jasiński acknowledged what we have been emphasizing for a very long time. PGE's arrogance led to the conflict around the open pit and the lawsuit to the CJEU. "It was a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding and a lack of willingness to engage in dialogue - and this was primarily from the Polish side," he said.
On the issue of PGE's arrogance, it is worth recalling, for example, that on November 17, 2021, the Polish Energy Group filed an application to extend its concession until 2044, which would allow the mining of 289 million tons of lignite. The whole matter, just like in March 2020, took place quietly, behind the backs of the public, institutions connected with this case, local communities, and organizations.
The efforts to extend the concession until 2044 were initiated by PGE at the time when the European Commission was considering a Czech complaint regarding the operation of the opencast. It should be noted that in its reasoned opinion of December, 17 2020, the EC noted, among other things, that in March 2020 "the Polish authorities incorrectly applied the provisions of the Access to Information Directive with regard to informing the public and Member States participating in cross-border consultations, access to justice as well as the principle of loyal cooperation enshrined in Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union. Unfortunately, history likes to repeat itself.
On April 29, the Minister of Environment and Climate, Michał Kurtyka, issued a concession for the Turów opencast until 2044. This despite the fact that the previous concession is still valid for 5 years, and the fate of Turów was at stake in the CJEU.
It is also worth recalling that before the Czech Republic filed the lawsuit to the CJEU, it had repeatedly tried to come to an agreement with Poland. On February, 12 2021, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček met with Minister Zbigniew Rau in Warsaw. Prior to his arrival, he stressed that this visit "is the last gesture of our will to agree before deciding to file a lawsuit." Meanwhile, the Polish Foreign Ministry, describing the meeting of ministers, did not even mention that the topic of Turów was raised. "Apparently, the issue of the concession, which may end up before the CJEU, does not seem important enough in the MFA to be mentioned," - we wrote in February 2021.
“No one who knows the case well can have even a shadow of a doubt that this brawl could have been easily avoided," Michał Tabaka comments on the issue of Jasiński's resignation on Bizblog. “After all, the management of the mine and the management of PGE have known about the Czechs' claims for years. [...] The Czechs have been waiting a very long time for PGE to fulfill its promises. Even in the second half of 2020, they tried at various levels to reach representatives of the Polish government and discuss the matter thoroughly. But Poland did not treat the matter seriously. Sometimes we sent ordinary deputies to meetings with Czech ministers. Prague had no right to believe that Poland was serious about the Turów mine.
Does the screen protect the Czechs?
In an interview with "Deutsche Welle," the Polish ambassador also noted that he believes that the anti-filtration screen, which was to be erected at the mine to prevent the loss of water to border towns in the Czech Republic, is "propagandistically presented as an additional protection. He added that it is "actually meant to protect the mine from flooding by tertiary waters." Meanwhile, the Polish government continues to maintain that the problem of the open-pit mine draining the surrounding area does not exist and that the construction of the anti-filtration screen is a "preventive measure."
Photo: Embassy of Poland in Prague, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons