Poland leak: Radoslaw Sikorski scorns 'worthless' US ties

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Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw SikorskiImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Sikorski has urged a tough EU response to Russia over Ukraine

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has called his country's ties with the US "worthless", a Polish news magazine says, providing excerpts of a secretly recorded conversation.

The magazine Wprost is already at the centre of another scandal over leaked tapes involving the Polish government.

It has also published remarks allegedly made by Mr Sikorski in which he criticised UK Prime Minister David Cameron's handling of EU affairs.

He has not denied using such language.

But Poland's foreign ministry has said the remarks have been taken out of context. Mr Sikorski and PM Donald Tusk have accused an "organised crime group" of being behind the revelations.

Earlier this month Mr Sikorski, a conservative and leading critic of Russia in the current Ukraine crisis, was nominated by the Polish government to replace Catherine Ashton as EU foreign policy chief.

Baroness Ashton, known as the EU high representative, will step down in November, but EU leaders have not yet decided who will replace her.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The raid on Wprost's offices by a prosecutor was broadcast live by several TV channels in Poland last week

According to the excerpts, Mr Sikorski told former Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski at a restaurant in Warsaw early this year that "the Polish-US alliance isn't worth anything".

Using vulgar language, he compared Polish subservience to the US to giving oral sex. He also warned that such a stance would cause "conflict with the Germans, Russians".

He also used a racially loaded term to describe the Polish stance - "murzynskosc", which suggests a slave mentality.

"[We are] suckers, total suckers. The problem in Poland is that we have shallow pride and low self-esteem,'' Mr Sikorski was quoted as saying.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski told reporters on Monday that the US was a "very important ally and partner".

In further remarks, published by Wprost, the foreign minister goes on to talk about Mr Cameron's immigration policy: "It's either a very badly thought through move, or, not for the first time, his incompetence in European affairs."

He goes on to say, using expletive-laden terms, that Mr Cameron messed up the 2011 EU fiscal compact on budget discipline, which the UK tried to block. "Because he's not interested, because he doesn't get it, because he believes in this stupid propaganda, he stupidly tries to manipulate the system," Mr Sikorski was quoted as saying.

Although bugging of conversations to gain information is illegal in Poland, punishable by up to two years in jail, the series of leaks has hit the Polish government hard.

Prosecutors were widely criticised when they ordered a late-night raid last Wednesday on the offices of Wprost, broadcast live on Polish TV, during which the magazine's editor refused to hand over his laptop. The following day, the prime minister said he might have to call snap elections.

In the initial leak, Wprost published the content of an alleged private conversation in which Poland's top banker discussed the next election with a minister.

Under Polish law, the central bank must remain independent of politics.

In the recording, Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz was allegedly heard talking to Marek Belka, head of the National Bank of Poland.

Mr Belka was apparently heard calling for ex-finance minister Rostowski to be removed in return for the bank's support in the event of an economic crisis.