WARSAW/LONDON Poland's foreign minister said that British Prime Minister David Cameron's policy on Europe was either reckless or incompetent, according to a secretly recorded conversation published by a Polish magazine on Monday.
The Wprost magazine published what it said were excerpts of a conversation between Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and former finance minister Jacek Rostowski. It said they were secretly recorded at a restaurant in Warsaw.
A Polish foreign ministry spokesman, contacted by telephone, said he had no comment and there was no immediate response to an emailed request for comment. The government has said the release of the recordings of officials debating affairs of state over restaurant meals is a plot to destabilize Poland.
A spokeswoman for Cameron, when asked about Sikorski's reported comments, said the prime minister was standing up for Britain's interests in Europe.
According to the transcript printed in the magazine, the two men discussed Cameron's policy on immigration. The British leader, under pressure from Eurosceptics, had said he would negotiate to have European Union rules changed to make it harder for people to abuse the right to freedom of movement.
The transcript quotes Sikorski as saying about Cameron's attempt to negotiate EU rule changes: "It's either a reckless step, or, not for the first time, his incompetence in European affairs.
"Do you remember, he fucked up the fiscal pact. Fucked it up. As simple as that. Because he’s not interested, because he doesn't know, because he believes in all that stupid propaganda, and is trying stupidly to manipulate the system."
In remarks that appeared to refer to Cameron's approach to Eurosceptics at home, Sikorski said the British leader was making concessions to them, and the policy had backfired.
"In this way he has left them space for them to humiliate him," Sikorski was quoted as saying.
Cameron's spokeswoman, asked about reports on Sikorski's remarks, said she had not seen the specific report but that the prime minister was clear that a discussion within the EU was needed about the abuse of the right to free movement.
"Support for the European Union in the UK is wafer-thin, there is real disillusionment amongst British voters about the European Union and that we need to look at how we reform the EU so that it better focuses on the issues that people care about," she said.
"It is for each national leader to stand up for what they believe is in their country’s interests and to be prepared to fight for their interests. That is exactly what the prime minister is doing."
(Additional reporting by Anna Sterczynska and Jakub Iglewski; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mark Heinrich)