A few weeks back I had a bone to pick, or as they say in German, a hen to pluck, with Libération’s Brussels correspondent Jean Quatremer after he had mounted one of his traditional hobby horses and bemoaned the excess of rosbifs speaking English at the European Commission. However, Monsieur Quatremer hits the nail on the head most days, calling spades spades, and, as the French say, cats cats; none more so this week with his welcome corrective to all the lachrymose homages to Polish president Lech Kaczynski following his death in Saturday’s Smolensk air disaster.
Promisingly entitled “Death of a Nationalist Reactionary”, Quatremer is amazed that death has transformed "this reactionary, bigoted, eurosceptic and brutal man, who was the worst president which Poland ever had, into a veritable icon... It was while his brother was prime-minister that he gave the true measure of himself. The two brother governed with the League of Families, a small anti-Semitic, xenophobic, violently reactionary party they protected. Authoritarian, little concerned with public liberties, they ruined the lives of hundreds of people throwing themselves into a fantasy witch-hunt of former communists.” Quatremer also quotes a European leader who described the Kaczynski twins as in need of some “good psychoanalysis.”
The article comes with a health warning, and regrets that the death of the legendary Anna Walentynowicz of Solidarity gave rise to fewer and less profuse hommages. “Let’s just hope that Lech’s death won’t mean that Jaroslaw gets elected in his place, the latter being even worse than his twin.” And so say some, though perhaps not all, of us.