Polish leader says country was slandered in EU Parliament

November 17, 2017

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo arrives for an EU social summit for fair jobs and growth in Gothenburg, Sweden, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)

GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) — Poland’s prime minister told other European leaders at a summit Friday that it is not acceptable that Poles who took part in an Independence Day march in Warsaw were denounced as “fascists” in the European Parliament.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said she would never let Poles to be “slandered and insulted” in such a way in an international forum.

Some 60,000 people joined a march Saturday that was organized by extreme far-right groups. Some carried banners calling for a “White Europe” or displayed other white supremacist symbols, including the Celtic Cross.

The march sparked criticism of Poland in a debate Wednesday in the European Parliament, where some representatives described the participants as “fascists.”

Speaking Friday after a European Union summit in Goteborg, Sweden, the conservative Szydlo said she strongly condemned extremism but that most who marched were not extremists.

“I will never allow my nation, which was a victim of two totalitarian states, (or) the citizens of my country, to be slandered and insulted,” Szydlo said.

The march was organized by the National Radical Camp and the All-Polish Youth, modern incarnations of radical nationalist groups that first arose in the 1930s.

Polish President Andrzej Duda sharply condemned the expressions of extremism on the country’s Independence Day. However, other government officials have described the extremist elements as marginal.

Szydlo on Friday called the march a “beautiful white-red manifestation,” a reference to the colors of the national flag.

Update hourly