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Leading German Politician Weighs Into German-Polish Dispute

Leading German Politician Weighs Into German-Polish Dispute

One of Germany's leading European parliamentarians has attacked the Polish government for bringing up the country's Nazi past in an attempt to gain more power in the EU.

This comes after a number of inflammatory remarks by Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski against the backdrop of the weekend's turbulent EU summit in which Germany and Poland clashed over proposed changes to the bloc's voting procedure that would weaken Warsaw's clout.

"Anybody who tries to weigh up the dead of the Second World War against votes in the (EU) Council has to be rejected out of hand," Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, told fellow lawmakers in Brussels on Wednesday to loud applause.

"The EU is an idea aimed at eliminating the specters of the past ... We will not permit the few to bring up those specters," he added.

Schulz was referring to Kacyznski's remarks that Poland deserved more voting power in the EU because its population would have been far larger if it had not been decimated during the Nazi era. The prime minister compounded matters on Tuesday when he compared modern-day Germany to the era that brought Adolf Hitler to power.

"Not representative"

Marek Siwiec, a Polish member of the European parliament said that Kaczynski's comments and the Polish blocking tactics at the EU summit did not represent the views of the Polish people.

He praised Germany for avoiding any kind of "demonstration of power" in its role as holder of the EU presidency vis-a-vis Poland and other EU states and praised German chancellor Angela Merkel's pleasant "new leadership style."

Poland eventually won concessions at the summit, notably a delay to the introduction of the new voting system which it opposed, but faced criticism for its negotiating manner.

The German chancellor continues to seek to play down the dispute with Poland.

"For us our Polish neighbor has the same importance as our French neighbor," she said in a speech on Wednesday in Brussels.

She has not commented on a controversial caricature of her that appeared on the front cover of the conservative Polish magazine Wprost on Monday. Entitled the "Stepmother of Europe," the photomontage depicted the German chancellor breast-feeding the Kaczynski twins.


A number of German politicians expressed outrage on Tuesday about the caricature that accompanied an article written by Mariusz Muszynski, the Polish foreign minister's commissioner for German-Polish relations.

But Eckart von Klaeden, the foreign policy spokesman for the conservative CDU/CSU bloc, has also called for the matter to be approached in a more relaxed manner. He told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung that press freedom also protected things that people might regard as stupid or tasteless.

Von Klaeden also referred to a caricature that appeared in Germany's taz newspaper a year ago that compared the Polish president as "Poland's new potato." At that time Berlin responded to protests from Warsaw by referring to the freedom of the press.

"Exactly the same standards should apply with regards to the cover of a Polish magazine," he said.


Re: Leading German Politician Weighs Into German-Polish Dispute

Poland's terrible twins

POLAND has confirmed its place as the "bad boy" of Europe by attempting to re-open negotiations on a new European Union treaty, less than a week after a hard-fought deal was agreed.

The Polish prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, told a news conference yesterday that the key issue of voting rights was not settled. "We have to finally resolve this issue at the Inter-Governmental Conference," he said, referring to detailed treaty negotiations that begin next month.

The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said there was no question of backing out of the deal: "Nothing would contradict the agreement that was unanimously obtained."

This view is shared by Portugal, which takes the reins of the EU's six-month rotating presidency on Sunday. Manuel Lobo Antunes, Portugal's foreign minister, said: "The mandate we have on the table is clear and unambiguous so I don't see why we should reopen any issues." He added that "no-one was 100 per cent satisfied" with the treaty. The Portuguese want final agreement on the treaty text by October, a remarkably fast turnaround.

EU-watchers think Poland won a major concession in last week's negotiations by delaying the introduction of a "double majority" voting system until 2017. Poland had strenuously opposed this new voting system, where voting rights will be set according to population size, so reducing Poland's EU clout.

It is believed prime minister Kacyznski, who was not at the Brussels summit, misunderstood the compromise on voting. The deal was agreed by Poland's president, Lech Kaczynski, the priermier's identical twin. Under the Polish constitution, the prime minister is in charge of foreign policy.

Argument now centres on a voting mechanism to let states delay EU decisions if they are just short of enough votes to block them.

Warsaw says it had agreed to a delay of two years in such cases, but EU officials say the deal was for decisions to be postponed only until the next EU summit. Summits are held three to four months apart.

Pawel Swieboda, a director of the Warsaw-based think-tank DemosEuropa, said the misunderstanding was "the result of a bad negotiating strategy", where "too much emphasis had been put on an unrealistic proposal". The Kaczynski brothers' favoured idea had been to base voting rights on the square root of the population. Before the summit, they said their solution "was worth dying for".

Yesterday's attempt to unravel the deal consolidated Poland's position as the EU's most awkward member - a position the British government is quite happy for it to have, deflecting criticism from the UK.

In the run-up to the summit, prime minister Kaczynski shocked EU diplomats by arguing Poland should get its way over voting rights because of the population losses it suffered from Nazi Germany.

The Second World War ended four years before the twins were born, but it has shaped their world view. Their father fought in the Polish resistance and the twins were brought up on stories of heroism in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. This has translated into a mistrust of Germany and Russia, which deepened when these countries agreed to build a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea, avoiding Poland.

Even before the summit, relations between the rest of the EU and Poland had been testy. In Brussels, there was concern about Poland's controversial "lustration" law, designed to remove people from public life who collaborated with the communist secret police. Many European countries disliked the Kaczynskis' opposition to gay rights and support for the death penalty.

Poland's "terrible twins" appear out of step with public opinion, which is more pro-European than most EU countries. A poll by Eurobarometer showed that 67 per cent of Poles think EU membership is a good thing and 69 per cent favour the EU constitution with the new voting system. Poland is the biggest beneficiary of EU funds and will take home 67 billion between 2007-13. Pawel Swieboda said: "The government is playing with fire..."

• EUROPE'S most important human rights watchdog yesterday criticised Polish leaders for anti-homosexual rhetoric and said the country had a homophobia problem.

"We should remember that one of the groups that were targeted by the Nazis were homosexuals, and we should avoid falling into that trap now," said Council of Europe human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg - in Warsaw to present a report on Poland's human rights performance to the prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

"We feel there is a problem of homophobia in several countries of Europe, including Poland, that one has to avoid statements, in particular from leading politicians, that may be interpreted as justifying homophobic actions or opinions," he said. "Because this is a minority under quite some pressure."

Poland's education minister, Roman Giertych, and members of his ministry are preparing a new law that would ban what they call "homosexual propaganda" in schools in order to protect traditional family values. Mr Giertych is from the right-wing Roman Catholic League of Polish Families, which militantly opposes gay rights and abortion. His party supports the government led by Mr Kaczynski's socially conservative Law and Justice party. Mr Kaczynski said in April that he backed the legislation. "It's not in the interest of any society to increase the number of homosexuals - that's obvious."

The president refused to grant parade permits for gay rights marches while he was mayor of Warsaw, although gatherings defied the bans.

Mr Hammarberg said the rhetoric of Polish leaders on homosexuality "has at times been below the standards that we should have".


Re: Leading German Politician Weighs Into German-Polish Dispute

Three comments - not mine!:

Quie a few Poles here in Scotland are not happy with the 'twins'. The Polish leaders need to realise that they joined the European Union, a community with certain rights, procedures and visions that are designed to create a more integrated, prosperous and peaceful Europe. Poland has greatly benefited by receiving a great deal of money from other EU countries. The EU has also allowed hundreds of thousands of Poles to earn good wages elsewhere in Europe. It seems to me that the Kacyznski brothers are trying to bully their way around the EU with losts of posturing and criticism - while smiling broadly as the cash flows into their country. This may seem simplistic but: if they keep behaving like spoiled children they should walk away from the table and eat on their own - outside the EU.


Poland can't have billions in Euros, jobs for their citizens, access to new markets, free flow of science and technology and secret prisons for the CIA, no woman's reproductive rights, the death penaly and burning homosexuals for amusement. As a country and a culture, as well as in government and policy, it will just have to decide what is more important. WWII is over, we all suffered. Of my mother's hometown militia, 19 of 27 died at Omaha Beach--including her brother, my uncle. Misery and victimhood is not a contest. Get over it.


Kick Poland out of the European union, then our tax will come down. OOPS i should not have said that because i have a polish block repairing my central heating, but anyway poles, checks, roomies, all they want to do is sponge off of the European union. kick the lot of them out and hand them back to mother Russia, then lets here them complain

Re: Leading German Politician Weighs Into German-Polish Dispute

If anyone wants a more balanced view of the comments on the Scotsman article please go to the link where you can read all 39 of them....

Re: Leading German Politician Weighs Into German-Polish Dispute

I would say that most of the comments appear to have been made by retards.