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Polish leader slammed for saying EU has little relevance

AP  |  Warsaw 

Poland's came under heavy criticism from political opponents Wednesday after he called the an "imaginary community" of little relevance to

Andrzej Duda is aligned with the ruling Law and Justice party, which has been in conflict with the EU over an overhaul of the Polish judicial system which sees as violating the rule of law.

"When our affairs are resolved, we will deal with European affairs," Duda said in a speech on Tuesday. "For now let them leave us alone and let us fix Poland, because this is the most important thing." Duda and government officials insist that the changes, which give the ruling party vast new powers over the courts, are democratic, making judges more accountable. The EU and a number of human rights groups say the changes erode the independence of the judicial branch.

Duda's speech came as the EU is struggling with challenges on several fronts, including a similar conflict with Hungary, Britain's departure next year and a new euroskeptic government in EU lawmakers on Wednesday voted to launch action against the of for allegedly undermining the bloc's democratic values and rule of law.

The reaction in to Duda's words was strong, and some commentators expressed fears that Polish authorities could be putting the country on a path of eventual departure from the union.

Chief opposition said that Duda didn't understand the "damage that such words bring to Poland's image and reputation."

Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz, the of the small agrarian Polish People's Party, accused Duda, who is a practicing Catholic, of rejecting the teaching of Poland's top authority, the late pope St. John Paul II, who advocated for EU membership.

In his speech to the southeast community of Lezajsk, Duda accused of abandoning to Soviet control after World War II. He said because of that history, has the right to have expectations of and that above all, "have the right to govern here and decide what kind of Poland we should have."

Poland joined the EU in 2004, a step that has brought 14 years of strong economic growth, fueled by billions of euros received from various EU funds. EU membership offered new freedoms for to travel, work and study across

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, September 12 2018. 20:45 IST