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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Justice Scalia's September 23-25

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DE RUEHWR #0950/01 2581427
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FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8884
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 WARSAW 000950

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE - PLEASE PASS U.S. SUPREME COURT
FOR JUSTICE SCALIA FROM AMBASSADOR ASHE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KJUS PL
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR JUSTICE SCALIA'S SEPTEMBER 23-25
VISIT TO WARSAW

1. (SBU) Mr. Justice, Mission Poland warmly welcomes your
September 23-25 visit to Warsaw. Your trip comes on the
heels of ceremonies in Gdansk marking the 70th anniversary of
the outbreak of World War II -- one of many important
commemorations this year, including the 20th anniversary of
1989 elections that helped bring about the collapse of
communism in Europe and the 90th anniversary of U.S.-Polish
diplomatic relations. Despite uncertainty about the future
of European Missile Defense -- a U.S. decision is expected
soon -- and worries here that U.S. efforts to improve
relations with Russia will imperil bilateral strategic
cooperation, the U.S.-Polish friendship is strong and
productive. While Poles still count on the U.S. as the key
guarantor of security in the region, there is growing public
concern that the U.S. assigns the bilateral relationship less
weight than Poland does and that the U.S. does not fully
appreciate Poland's many contributions to the cause of
freedom and democracy. According to the German Marshall
Fund's recent Transatlantic Trends survey, Poles, who were
once considerably more pro-American than Western Europeans,
are now much more skeptical of the U.S.

2. (SBU) As in the American Revolution, World War I, and
World War II, Polish soldiers fought side by side with U.S.
troops in Iraq for five years and still maintain the seventh
largest troop contingent in Afghanistan. Moreover, Poland
has long supported efforts to extend the zone of security,
prosperity, and stability to the former Soviet space.
Despite our shared ideals and close historical ties, as
Poland's ties to the EU continue to deepen -- and as Poland
becomes more influential in Brussels -- we will find it
increasingly difficult to make the U.S.-Polish relationship
relevant to average Poles, most of whom take great offense at
Poland's continued exclusion from the U.S. Visa Waiver
Program (VWP). Poles feel they should be included in the VWP
as a sign of American appreciation for Polish contributions
on numerous issues.

MISSILE DEFENSE AND PATRIOTS

3. (SBU) The fate of Missile Defense remains first and
foremost on the minds of Poland's government and public. In
August 2008, Prime Minister Donald Tusk agreed to locate U.S.
missile interceptors in Poland under the auspices of a
Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement (BMDA). He did so
largely to accommodate a direct request from the United
States, Poland's longtime ally. Poles are now waiting
patiently for our decision on the future of European Missile
Defense. Polish media report almost daily that the U.S. will
likely withdraw from its prior decisions. Most Poles are not
wedded to Missile Defense, but they strongly wish to avoid
any perception that the U.S. is giving up on the program in
order to reset relations with Russia.

4. (SBU) Regardless of the fate of Missile Defense, there is
an expectation that the U.S. will move forward with a
rotation of U.S. Patriot missiles. We have been reassuring
on this point. The President has confirmed that the U.S.
will implement the August 2008 bilateral Declaration on
Strategic Cooperation that calls for the Patriot rotation.
The form that rotation will take continues to receive much
attention. Earlier this year, headlines heralding the
arrival of unarmed "Naked Patriots" reflected fears that the
rotation of a Patriot battery from Germany may not meet
Polish expectations, at least in the initial rotation; the
Poles seek a combat-ready, fully operational system capable
of integration with the Polish air defense system. The USG
interagency continues to work these issues, and is expected
to inform the Poles of our decisions shortly after your
visit. The Missile Defense decision in particular is
extremely sensitive, and current U.S. thinking is closely
held.

THE RUSSIA FACTOR

5. (SBU) For historical reasons, Poles do not want to see key
decisions made over Poland's head, but they do not object to
improved U.S.-Russian relations. Prime Minister Tusk and
Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (with whom you will meet)
have tamped down the rhetoric directed against Russia,
instead choosing to engage in a pragmatic bilateral dialogue.
The Government has also endeavored to keep thorny historical
issues such as the massacre of Polish soldiers at Katyn from
impeding progress in areas like bilateral trade. While
Polish officials do not expect major breakthroughs in
relations with Russia in the near future, their pragmatic
policy has already paid dividends, including a recent
agreement on navigation in the Vistula Bay, reopening

WARSAW 00000950 002 OF 003


commercial shipping between the Polish port of Elblag and the
Russian enclave of Kaliningrad for the first time since the
break-up of the Soviet Union. This pragmatic approach is
balanced by anxiety about Russia's role as a regional power,
particularly after the August 2008 conflict in Georgia.

DOMESTIC POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

6. (SBU) The Polish economy has thus far managed to weather
the global crisis and is generally performing better than
other European economies. While Prime Minister Tusk and his
center-right Civic Platform party continue to enjoy
relatively high public support (between 45 and 50 percent
favorability), his Government and cabinet ministers, for a
variety of reasons, are less popular. Tusk is widely
expected to run against President Lech Kaczynski (who founded
the more conservative Law and Justice party) in next year's
presidential elections. Tusk's policies have focused
primarily on accelerating Poland's political and economic
integration into the EU and on increasing Poland's influence
in Brussels. Despite Tusk's popularity, media and the
opposition routinely assert that he formulates policy
primarily on the basis of polls and that his only policy
objective is to win election to the presidency. Although
President Kaczynski continues to poll as one of Poland's
least popular politicians, recent opinion polls predict he
would finish second in the first round of presidential
elections -- setting up a Tusk-Kaczynski run-off. Given the
high stakes, media analysts predict the next 12 months
promise little more than a parliamentary stalemate between
Poland's two dominant political parties.

POLAND'S JUDICIAL SYSTEM UNDER FIRE

7. (SBU) Poland,s judiciary -- the EU's most expensive on a
per capita basis --- has long been the subject of public and
media criticism. Since taking office in January, Justice
Minister Andrzej Czuma (with whom you will meet) has sought
to take on the perceived lack of integrity among Polish
prosecutors and judges. Though difficult to prove,
corruption is believed to be commonplace. Holdover
communist-era practices slow court proceedings and lengthen
pre-trial detentions. Inexperienced entry-level judges join
a close-knit group that enjoys almost complete immunity, with
limited oversight. While no court system has ever been
criticized for being too timely or too inexpensive, it is
increasingly clear to most Poles that another round of
judicial reforms is needed as Poland leaves its communist
legal legacy behind. Although some judges claim that
Minister Czuma's pledged reforms would encourage executive
branch interference, few Poles inside or outside of
government would accept measures that undermine the
independence of the judiciary.

A BIT ABOUT YOUR HOST

8. (SBU) Poland,s independent Civil Rights Ombudsman, Dr.
Janusz Kochanowski, at whose invitation you will deliver a
lecture at the Warsaw Royal Castle, was appointed in January
2006 by the previous Law and Justice Government. He was born
in 1940 and graduated from Warsaw University with a degree in
law in 1966. He worked as a lecturer at Warsaw University
until 1991, when he was appointed to serve as Poland's Consul
General in London. In 1997, he returned to his position as a
lecturer at Warsaw University. He was a member of the
Solidarity movement from 1980 until 1991. Kochanowski's
appointment was opposed by both the Civic Platform and the
post-communist Democratic Left Alliance, largely because his
conservative views mirror those of the Law and Justice party.
He was confirmed by a 239-194 vote.
9. (SBU) Kochanowski appears regularly in press interviews
and comments frequently in the media on court decisions, as
well as domestic and international social issues and current
events. Over the past year, he has proposed amendments to
Poland's constitution, along with revisions to legislation on
public media, the press, the criminal code, and election
laws. He has also spoken out on issues concerning the rights
of children, women, disabled persons, homosexuals,
immigrants, and detainees. Kochanowski was strongly
criticized by counterparts in other EU member states for
advocating chemical castration for convicted pedophiles. He
has approached the Embassy to express concern about
allegations of poor treatment of Poles at U.S. ports of entry
and to advocate on behalf of the mother of a U.S. Marine who
sought a meeting with President Obama to discuss her son's
murder.

PRIVATE PROPERTY RESTITUTION LEGISLATION STALLED

WARSAW 00000950 003 OF 003

10. (SBU) Poland is one of the last countries in Central
Europe that have not made legislative provisions for an
expedited, administrative (rather than judicial) mechanism
for resolving private property restitution claims, an issue
closely tracked by the American Jewish community. Private
property compensation to owners and heirs -- including
Holocaust survivors -- remains politically unpopular in
Poland, even though the great majority of those compensated
would be Poles living in Poland. The Polish Government
recently claimed that Polish compensation legislation would
risk bolstering pending legal claims by German nationals,
even though the German government has called the claims
invalid. Polish officials also argue that the economic
crisis is complicating a multi-billion dollar payment
program.


ASHE

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