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Poland invites EU for talks over new media laws

The Polish government has asked for an EU official to meet for talks on a new media law has had Brussels mulling sanctions. At the same time, press groups filed a complaint with the Council of Europe over the statue.

Warsaw invited the European Commission's representative in Poland to hold talks over the country's

controversial new media law

on Tuesday. The "courtesy talk" comes on the heels of EU resistance to the new administration's tighter controls on the country's top court and state-owned press.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski (pictured above) told private broadcaster TVN24 that he hoped the discussion would clear up the "strange, unclear statements of some European Commissioners, who, based on press reports…start to judge Poland."

"We want to clarify why the Commissioners are not using official channels of communication with the Polish government, but [instead] give weekend interviews to the German press."

EU mulls suspension of Polish voting rights

Waszczykowski was referring to an interview Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is responsible for the digital economy and society, gave to the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" on Sunday. Oettinger, a Christian Democrat, suggested that Poland be put under the EU's rule of law supervision - the first of a three-step process that can culminate in restrictions to a country's voting rights at the EU.

The controversy stems from a series of new laws implemented by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which took power in Warsaw following October's elections. One piece of legislation, which has passed in the lower house of parliament but still must be approved by the PiS-controlled senate, would give the Polish government the power to appoint the heads of public broadcasters.

Press freedom groups, including the Association of European Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists, filed a complaint with the Council of Europe over the law.

PiS has also made headlines and courted scrutiny over controversial new appointments at the country's constitutional court - coupled with new rules on how the court can reach verdicts. Critics say it will render the court unable to react quickly and, in some cases, unable to reach verdicts at all.

Amidst growing fears that the government is undermining democracy in the bloc's largest eastern member, the European Commission had previously announced its intention

to hold a "political debate"

on the rule of law in Poland on January 13.

es/ (AFP, Reuters)

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