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Europe's pact on violence against women could impose 'leftist ideology', Polish official says

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s conservative nationalist government cranked up its campaign against Europe’s accord on violence against women, calling it a tool for the EU to foist “leftist ideology” on unwilling member states.

Warsaw deems the Istanbul Convention too liberal and the new row over it could worsen friction between the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and European Union institutions alarmed at a perceived erosion of democratic standards and rights in Poland.

The PiS has targeted the convention since its presidential candidate narrowly won re-election in July after a campaign that inveighed against LGBT rights. PiS officials have signalled they want to start procedures to leave the pact as part of efforts to cement a socially conservative agenda for years to come.

“It’s a document that can in a few years be used to push for a change in law on abortion, for example. It’s a convention that makes a number of extreme leftist assumptions,” Sebastian Kaleta, a deputy justice minister, told Reuters this week.

He said the convention could also be used to increase migrant flows. “These men who a few years ago crossed the sea to European countries would say at the first control (point) that they feel they are women or genderless...and will ask for asylum as the convention allows (for this),” Kaleta said.

Poland has been among the most vocal critics of the EU’s migrant relocation programmes and has some of Europe’s most restrictive rules surrounding abortion.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki last week said Poland’s potential departure from the convention would be assessed by its constitutional court.

Since the election, the European Commission has threatened to cut off funding to Polish regions declaring themselves free of what they call LGBT “ideology”, hoping to deter what it sees as Poland’s backsliding on women’s and LGBT rights.

Kaleta said such moves would violate EU treaties and called for a shake-up in the Commission.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Aleksandra Szmigiel; Editing by Mark Heinrich