The visit was the result of the current and former presidents of the Nordic Council, Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir and Hans Wallmark, meeting Tomasz Grodzki at the session of the Baltic Assembly in Riga in November 2019. After the meeting, Grodzki invited the Nordic Council to the upper house of the Polish parliament, the senate, with a view to resuming and strengthening co-operation with the Nordic countries.
Co-operation between the Polish parliament and the Nordic Council has been on the back-burner since 2015 when the nationalist party Law and Justice (PIS) came to power.
Importance of close ties
Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, who led the Nordic Council’s delegation during the visit, stressed that close ties with Poland are hugely important, especially now that the governing party PIS is implementing reforms that are deemed to threaten democracy and the rule of law.
“Developments in Poland are deeply concerning. The controversial interventions in the justice system, state involvement in the work of the media, and attitudes towards LGBTQ people are at odds with my personal beliefs and the democratic values that the Nordic Council stands for. It’s extremely important that the Nordic Region maintains close ties with our Polish colleagues and shows its support for Poland’s democratic voices,” says Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir.
Poland an important partner for the Nordic Region
PIS currently fills the roles of both Poland’s president and prime minister, and also holds the majority in the Sejm, the lower house in the Polish parliament. In recent years, PIS has implemented a series of reforms that go against the EU’s fundamental values, prompting harsh criticism from the European Commission and the European Parliament.
For the time being, the senate is one of few Polish institutions where the opposition has a majority.
Poland is an important collaborative and trading partner for the Nordic countries, as well as a key player in the Baltic Sea area. In addition, tens of thousands of Poles live in the Nordic Region. A natural topic of discussion during the visit was, therefore, conditions for Poles who live and work in the region.
The Nordic Council also met with the Polish senate’s foreign affairs committee to discuss security policy, and in particular the situation in Ukraine.
Disinformation and fake news were also discussed during the visit, with fake news a priority for Iceland, which holds the presidency of the Nordic Council this year.
The Nordic Council delegation consisted of Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir and members of the presidium Michael Tetzschner (Norway) and Erkki Tuomioja (Finland).
The Nordic Council is the official body for Nordic inter-parliamentary co-operation. It has 87 members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland.