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Illinois’ financial crisis could bring the state to a halt

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“Changes break rules.” Another international body looks at reforms in Poland

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By Andrej Tomasz

The words from abroad, criticizing the reforms of the Polish government, are falling again. – The changes introduced in 2017 to the Act on the Supreme Court, on the National Council of the Judiciary and on common courts are not in line with anti-corruption standards.

The GRECO Agenda (“Group of States against Corruptions”) created in 1999 includes all member states of the Council of Europe and the United States, each of them is delegated to GRECO, usually by two experts. is announcing this Thursday, they are Lenka Habrnalova from the Czech Republic and David Meyer from Great Britain The report analyzes changes in court laws in line with the GRECO mandate, that is to prevent corruption in the judiciary. on the GRECO forum and the entire Council of Europe.

In its regular assessments of individual countries of the Council of Europe, GRECO emphasizes that the judges, among others, they should be able to consider a matter without pressure and tempt with “rewards” (eg acceleration of professional advancements) by the executive and legislative authorities, should be free from political manipulation of their professional career and able to take responsibility for strong and lawful supervision over the correctness of court proceedings. In other words, the independence of the judiciary and the respect of all authorities for the rule of law are indispensable conditions for the creation of barriers to corruption.

Today’s GRECO report on Poland not only points out three legal acts (about the Supreme Court, the National Council of the Judiciary and about the system of common courts), but also recommends corrective actions in key matters. It is about ensuring that at least half of the members of the National Council of the Judiciary are judges chosen by judges (and not by parliamentarians). In addition, GRECO calls for the current judges of the Supreme Court (SN) not to apply a reduced retirement age (in conjunction with the president’s freedom to consent to work in retirement), as well as “free of political influence” decisions to agree to work on retired future judges of the Supreme Court. Disciplinary proceedings against the judges of the Supreme Court should be – appeals to GRECO – free from “improper influence of the executive in legislative affairs”.

A several-page GRECO report also contains harsh criticism of the role of the Minister of Justice (and at the same time the Prosecutor General) in the discretionary appeal to dismiss presidents of courts on the basis of the Act on the System of Common Courts.

Venice Commission and now GRECO

GRECO is another international body that took on the censored Polish “reforms” of the judiciary. Like the Venice Commission (the Council of Europe agenda dealing mainly with constitutional and electoral law), the instrument of GRECO’s pressure to implement the recommendations is only political persuasion or attempts to embarrass.

The opinions of the Venice Commission on Poland have already been supported by the EU European Commission since 2016, which is now under the disciplinary article 7.1. The Treaty on EU is being analyzed – proposed last week by PiS deputies – small concessions of Poland in a dispute with Brussels regarding the rule of law. However, it is not expected that the Polish authorities in the near future intend to implement most of the recommendations of the European Commission, the Venice Commission or GRECO.

Question about EU money

The novelty of the GRECO report is the unequivocal indication of corruption threats resulting from changes in the Polish justice system. It is politically connected with the ongoing debate in the EU, whether future EU funds should be linked to the rule of law. The European Parliament is skeptical, and the European Commission is divided (uncoordinated by its head Jean-Claude Juncker and the budget commissioner Günther Oettinger). But many EU countries want it, which will be net contributors (more contributors than outlets) to the new EU budget from 2021.

The aim is not classic penalties imposed for violating the rule of law, but, for example, making the payment of EU funds dependent on the existence of an efficient (i.e. independent) justice system that would ensure prosecution in projects financed from the common EU budget in individual EU countries.

European Commission experts unofficially ensure that funds are currently spent in Poland correctly – there are no such doubts and questions about corruption as in the case of Hungary. It’s just that Budapest has a much longer time to spoil the rule of law. And the warnings from GRECO do not bode Poland for the future.

At present, one of the ideas discussed in the Union is building in the European Public Prosecutor’s Office anti-corruption fuses for money from the EU budget. Countries that have not joined the construction of this Prosecutor’s Office would retain access to EU funds from 2021, but it would be more difficult and slower – with additional controls from Brussels replacing the usual procedures under the new Prosecutor’s Office.

Poland and Hungary are two of just five EU countries (without UK brexit counting), which did not declare to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The envoys of Minister Zbigniew Ziobra explain this in Brussels to the concern for the sovereignty of the Polish judiciary.

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Rex Tillerson fired. Can it get any worse?

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Rex Tillerson once called Donald Trump a “fucking moron”. Releasing him now, the president only confirmed the diagnosis of his former subordinate. But for Poland it can be a good decision.

It was hard to come up with a worse time to release his secretary of state. Shortly after the great historical plans for meeting Trump with Kim Jong-un were announced with great fanfare. The day after Tillerson loudly – against the White House stand – he supported the British prime minister in accusing Russia of a chemical attack on Sergei Skripal.

For a president who fights against being accused of being a Russian puppet and accusations of total chaos in administration, dismissal of Rex’s Tillerson – suddenly and without the knowledge released by the president’s tweet – confuses on political idiocy.

Still, no one will be crying in Washington after Tillerson. According to an almost universal opinion, Rex Tillerson was not a good secretary of state. According to some, he could even be the worst boss in the history of US diplomacy. He came to the ministry almost against himself (he was the president of the oil giant Exxon Mobil), knowing only about the oil business and completely disorganized the work of American diplomacy. During the first months of Trump’s presidency, America’s partners – including Poland – wanting to talk to Washington, often had no one to call. The State Department was heavily depleted, demoralized and cleared.

Tillerson was one of Trump’s more independent form in administration (he called him “debil” publicly), but he was isolated and his position publicly challenged. The former oilman was also considered one of the pigeons, holding back Trump’s most warlike instincts, especially when it comes to his plans for North Korea. There was a rumor that along with other “adults” in the administration – the head of the Pentagon James Mattis and secretary of the treasury, Steve Mnuchin – created a “suicide pact”: if one of them is released, the others will also give up.

Nevertheless, his ministry operated in a certain part as a separate state. It was said that Tillerson was speaking on his own behalf, but not Trump. In some less significant situations, as in the case of the last scandals with Poland, he had almost a free hand. Therefore, when President Duda did not answer his phone, the consequences turned out to be significant.

Does this mean that his resignation is good news for those in Warsaw? Not necessarily. His successor, former Congressman and CIA head Mike Pompeo, has the opinion of “plasticine” in Washington. As the head of the CIA he was supposedly liked by his subordinates, because he knew his place in the line: he knew he had little knowledge, so he let them go according to what they wanted. Not that he does not have his own views. He is considered one of the greatest hawks, mainly against Iran (which also means strong pro-Israelism) and North Korea, but also towards Russia.

Therefore, from the perspective of Poland, in the end, everything can break down to what extent the president himself will be interested in the diplomacy department. If for some reason Trump finds a willingness to deal with diplomacy, it can come in our favor, if only because of the similarities in the perception of the world between him and the rulers in Warsaw. If, as in the CIA, professional diplomats, brought up in the ethos of respect for Western values, take control, Poland may not be so easy. Although in fact, until the crisis with Israel is overcome – much more important than the US for the USA, especially for this administration, nothing will help us.

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Viktor Orban: We are in danger from the West

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This danger, according to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, “attracts” politicians in Brussels, Berlin and Paris who want Hungary to take on their policies. – This policy, which made them an immigration country and opened the way to the decline of Christian culture and the field of Islam, emphasized in a speech.

The Hungarian prime minister also stated that the government would not look idly at the fact that there are people who are working towards the implementation of Soros’s plan. To the American financier George Soros, the Hungarian authorities are accusing them of bringing millions of immigrants to Europe.

“If necessary, the government will use an even stronger legal weapon,” Orban assures. The prime minister mentioned above all the package of anti-immigration law projects that the government recently filed in the parliament.

As he stressed, dealing with immigrants will be conditional upon obtaining a national security license.
A part of foreign support for non-governmental organizations friendly towards migrants will be used to protect the border, full financial fraud will be carried out and those who do not give up their dangerous plans will simply be banned, “even if they are not known how powerful or rich” – he stressed .

– We will also fight in the international arena – Orban said.

Vikotr Orban assessed the situation of Hungary in his speech, which at the same time opened the Fidesz campaign before the parliamentary elections on 8 April. He emphasized that he had promised a million new jobs within 10 years, and after eight years of rule of this party, there were already 736,000 of them.

The Hungarian prime minister also pointed out that a new field of dispute with the UN was opening up, which wants to enact a strategy of managing large migration flows in December. – Although 80 percent of UN member states are countries from which people leave, but this was not the goal of creating this organization – he says.

Orban said that the fight Hungary is fighting in this area is not hopeless. He relies on allies in the countries of the Visegrad Group, and in Austria he points to a turn in the “patriotic” direction.

Hungary is also waiting for the result of the elections in Italy on March 4, where Forza Italia, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, may again come to power.

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