Email This Post - Print This Post Print This Post

sikorski_applebaum

By John Helmer, Moscow

In March, when he thought it was safe to speak his mind at the Amber Restaurant in Warsaw, Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw (Radek) Sikorski (lead image, left) used a racial expletive to refer to the Polish relationship with the US government, which is so unpleasant, noone outside Poland has been willing to translate it into English. That was on top of an expletive describing what Sikorski said Poland’s metaphorical mouth has been doing with the US government’s metaphorical sexual organ.

Sikorski was talking with Jacek Rostowski; like Sikorski, Rostowski is a British-educated, British national, and a recent finance minister in Donald Tusk’s current Polish government. They were dining just after Crimea had voted to join the Russian Federation, and as the US government announced the first round of sanctions. The tape-recording, which has begun to be published by the Polish weekly Wprost, also reproduces jokes Sikorski told Rostowski, including one about a man with multiple sclerosis who over-exerts himself at a brothel.

Sikorski said: “You know that the Polish-U.S. alliance isn’t worth anything. It is downright harmful because it creates a false sense of security … Complete bullshit. We’ll get in conflict with the Germans, Russians and we’ll think that everything is super because we gave the Americans a blow job. Losers. Complete losers.” For that last term describing his countrymen, Sikorski used the Polish word “murzynskosc”. Etymologically, the term implies black slaves. Reuters reports the term as having the literal meaning of a “dark skinned person…who does the work for somebody else.”

Polish sources confirm the recordings are authentic. “There are apparently nine hundred hours of them, concerning various top politicians,” said one investigative Polish reporter. “They are being released in parts by the weekly Wprost. The recordings have been made over the past one or two years in various top restaurants in Warsaw; two have been identified for the moment.” Sikorski’s tete-a-tete with Rostowski took place here:

sikorski_meeting
http://www.amber-room.pl/

A well-known Warsaw reporter, Piotr Nisztor, obtained the tapes from a source he is keeping secret. He then arranged their publication with Wprost, where the editor in charge is Sylwester Latkowski.

The Wprost publication record is omitting strictly private references. The Sikorski table talk lasted approximately two hours, but the excerpts published so far run for between 15 and 30 minutes. Other parts of the conversation, according to Wprost, are either difficult to decipher because of ambient noise, or because the Wprost editors judge them to be less than publicly relevant. Wprost says that all the significant fragments of the conversation, including the sex bits, have been reported already.

At their restaurant meeting Sikorski and Rostowski discussed what jobs at the European Commission in Brussels might be available in the event that Sikorski failed to win Baronness Catherine Ashton’s post as High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Sikorski and his wife, the Washington journalist Anne Applebaum (lead image, right), have been lobbying for Sikorski’s appointment to this job since he failed to win US endorsement to become the new NATO Secretary-General. That story can be read here.

Applebaum responded to Sikorski’s exposure in Wprost by saying: “I’m astonished that Polish media don’t ask who is pulling strings in this ‘scandal’…stinks of Russian infowar tactic.” The Polish foreign Ministry said it is reserving comment until it can review the entire tape and transcript.

The Financial Times launched Sikorski’s public candidacy for EU foreign minister on May 24. For that story, click. The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk followed with an official announcement of Sikorski’s candidacy to succeed Ashton. Warsaw sources say that by then Sikorski was privately doubtful that he could count on Prime Minister David Cameron’s backing. Cameron, they say, has failed to counter the election of Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg as the new EU President, and in the process lost all bargaining leverage for other Brussels posts which Juncker has been offering to his supporters. The most likely candidate to succeed Ashton now, Polish sources concede, is the Italian Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini.

The Financial Times reporter Neil Buckley omitted the expletives, the jokes, and also the part of the Amber conversation in which Sikorski and Rostowski attacked British policy and Prime Minister Cameron. According to Rostowski, Cameron will take the UK out of the European Union, but preserve an associated status like Norway’s. Sikorski is recorded as saying the UK “had fucked Eastern Europe and a few other things”.

Sikorski was in the UK last week. According to his spokesman in Warsaw, Sikorski opened a Polish consulate in Manchester; called on Lord Tim Boswell at the House of Lords committee on the European Union; and made a luncheon speech to a London club called the Club of Three and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (below).

sikorski_london

skarbek_graveSikorski’s spokesman also says that on June 20 he visited the grave at a London cemetery of Krystyna Skarbek. She was a Polish woman who was honoured for her bravery in secret British operations in occupied France during World War II, but who was then abandoned after the war by the British Government. Because Sikorski had not attended earlier ceremonies at Skarbeck’s restored grave, and the timing of his visit did not coincide with either the anniversary of her birth or death, Polish sources believe Sikorski was signalling his own belief that the British have betrayed him, as they had Skarbeck.

According to Buckley’s report in the Financial Times, Sikorski’s remarks “could be an embarrassment for a man seen as a potential candidate to succeed Lady Ashton as EU foreign policy chief, and for a country that has prided itself on close relations with Washington…The conversation with Mr Rostowski took place before the Ukraine crisis erupted.”

That claim about the timing of Sikorski’s vituperation is false, according to Polish sources who have reviewed the time references in the full transcript.

edward_lucasEdward Lucas, a Polish-speaking reporter for the Financial Times’s affiliated publication, The Economist, has released tweets claiming: “Wikileaks & now Polish Tapegate all part of same pattern, info-attacks on West… Perhaps rather than just parsing the statements we should ask who made the recordings & why surfaced now?..just ask yourself. who had resources to organise year-long bugging op in multiple locations? & why wd they do it?…this is clearly an escalating information warfare attack on polish govt. What will be next stage?”

Lucas was followed by Sikorski himself. He announced in Luxembourg today that he and his government have been “attacked by an organised criminal group”. He added that the government in Warsaw has started an investigation on who ordered the eavesdropping operation “amid suspicion that Russian espionage is behind the scandal.” The Foreign Ministry said in Warsaw that it isn’t going to comment until after it has listened to the entire tape.

US Ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull (left, with Sikorski), announced: “I’m not going to comment on alleged content of private conversations. As for our alliance, I think it’s strong.”

sikorski_mull

Polish journalists report that the tapes were collected and are being released by Polish political rivals of the present government.

Leave a Reply