Polish Minister of Defence to discuss vetoed demotion law with the president

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has said he has been invited by President Andrzej Duda to discuss on Friday the so-called demotion bill that the president vetoed in late March due to the "unjust solutions" it contained, despite supporting the demotions.

"I've been invited for consultation with the president tomorrow. Of course, I'll come to the consultation and will present my point of view and the point of view of the government and the parliamentary majority," the defence minister told a public radio broadcaster on Thursday.

Blaszczak added that for the ruling party the issue was closed. "The government will not prepare a new bill, and neither will the parliamentary caucus," he explained.

The minister also said the president had constitutional authority to prepare relevant legislation.

The bill, passed by the Sejm (lower house) in early March, was to deprive members of Poland's 1981-83 Military Council of National Salvation (WRON) of their military ranks. WRON administered the People's Republic of Poland after the December 13, 1981 imposition of martial law in the country. The bill was also planned to allow for the demotions of officers and soldiers found to have acted against Polish interests in the years 1943-1990.

Explaining his veto in late March, Duda said the decision had been difficult, and stressed that he saw the purposefulness of the demotions of general Wojciech Jaruzelski (the WRON leader) and the remaining WRON members, as they "were people who worked to Poland's detriment, who helped build a system that oppressed us Poles." However, Duda observed, the act had serious drawbacks and proposed "unjust solutions," which prompted him to veto it.

Duda said his main objection was that the bill offered no possibility of appeal or defence means for those being demoted, and provided no form of representation for deceased defendants in demotion cases. According to Duda these were "serious moral drawbacks."

"(In the demotion act - PAP) there is no spokesperson for deceased persons, (...) nor any mandatory defence provisions. I think this should be in the act, and I hold this as a very serious moral drawback of this act," Duda said. He added that the bill in its present form violated democratic standards.

"The solution adopted in the act, namely that the WRON members (...) have no possibility of lodging explanations or appeals (...) is something I cannot accept as president," Duda stated.