Germany pledges solidarity with Poland in border fight with Belarus
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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also raised the sensitive issue of the rule of law under the right-wing Polish government, which is at odds with the European Union in its attempts to exercise control over Polish judges.
Baerbock was sworn in on Wednesday as part of the coalition government of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Speaking in Warsaw alongside her Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Rau, she vowed not to make decisions “above the heads of our neighbors or at the expense of others”.
“That is why we are here in full responsibility and solidarity alongside Poland and the Baltic States,” she said. The Polish government and EU officials have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of retaliating against the EU by directing migrants to the eastern borders of the bloc of 27 countries.
Polish leaders expressed their irritation when former German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue in talks with the Belarusian and Russian presidents.
“This is our common European border, where humanity and order apply,” she said.
Baerbock said she raised the rule of law issue with Rau, “although it’s uncomfortable. But that’s what marks strong friendships, faced with uncomfortable questions.
Poland is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. The committee is withholding pandemic stimulus funds from Poland due to erosion of judicial independence.
The ongoing dispute was deeply exacerbated after the Polish Constitutional Court, under the political influence of the ruling Law and Justice party, ruled this fall that Polish law takes precedence over EU law in key areas .
The government in Warsaw maintains that the withholding of funds by the European Commission itself constitutes a violation of EU law.
Some Poles fear the dispute could set the country on the path to a possible departure from the EU, known as Polexit.
Citing opinion polls that show Poland’s strong support for EU membership, Baerbock said it would be wrong for Germans to consider themselves the “best Europeans”.
“So I will not give any public notice,” she said. “But I hope for all of us, for the German-Polish friendship, for our common Europe, that we will find solutions that strengthen Europe. And Poland is an indispensable part of it.
Baerbock, 40, from the German Green Party, and Rau, 66, from the right-wing Law and Justice party, were cordial, addressing each other by first names, while Baerbock mentioned that his grandparents came from Poland to Germany over 60 years ago.
She expressed gratitude for the ties between Germany and Poland in light of the “countless Polish casualties due to German actions” during World War II. The German Nazis occupied Poland during the war and committed mass atrocities against the population.
The war remains a strongly symbolic problem which still shapes the relationship, and which the nationalists in power in Poland often grapple with.
A deputy government minister recently accused Germany of seeking to build a “Fourth Reich”.
In Polish and addressed to German Ambassador Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, one of them said: “The German authorities, who are so interested in the rule of law in other countries, will they finally tackle the problem? scandalous German anarchy and will pay Polish reparations for the German crimes of WWII? ? “
Rau expressed a similar idea in more diplomatic terms.
“One area in which we continue to expect good concrete cooperation from the German government is the question of Germany’s responsibility for the outbreak of World War II and the contemporary aspects of this event. We must return to the return of cultural property seized by Germany, ”said Rau.
Agnieszka Lada-Konefal, deputy director of the German Institute of Polish Affairs in Darmstadt, Germany, said the recent anti-German rhetoric from the Polish ruling circle is for domestic policy purposes and is aimed at voters, but “has a very negative impact on Polish-German relations.
“It sends a terrible signal to Germany. This is something the Germans don’t understand, “she told The Associated Press from Warsaw on Friday.” They don’t know why there is such an escalation of rhetoric and they are also already annoyed that it continues to escalate. “
Prior to traveling to Warsaw, Baerbock held meetings in Paris and Brussels on his first trip abroad since taking office.
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