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Polish, German presidents discuss Ukraine, WWII reparations: aide

06.10.2022 11:30
The Polish and German presidents have discussed Russia's war in Ukraine and Warsaw's diplomatic push for World War II reparations from Berlin during a one-on-one conversation in Malta, an aide revealed on Thursday.
Polands President Andrzej Duda and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier meet in Valletta, Malta, on Thursday, October 6, 2022.
Poland's President Andrzej Duda and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier meet in Valletta, Malta, on Thursday, October 6, 2022.Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek

Poland's Andrzej Duda and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier agreed that the issue of war reparations "is a difficult matter that their two countries need to resolve," the Polish president's top foreign policy aide, Jakub Kumoch, told reporters.

"Both presidents recognize that this is a dispute of a legal nature, while their task is to build relations between the Polish and German peoples so that people-to-people relations suffer as little as possible as a result of such disputes, so that they continue to develop positively," Kumoch said.

He added that the spat over war reparations "is a dispute between the Polish and German governments, and not between ordinary Poles and Germans."

Duda and Steinmeier also spoke about the West's response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine when they met in the Maltese capital Valletta on Thursday, according to Kumoch.

During his two-day visit to Malta, the Polish president was scheduled to attend a summit of the so-called Arraiolos Group of countries later in the day, news outlets reported.

The summit was expected to focus on "some of the most pressing issues, such as the security of the eastern and southern flanks of the NATO alliance," according to Kumoch.

He told reporters ahead of the meeting that other topics up for discussion included the European Union's cohesion policy and "the latest challenges facing the bloc."

The Arraiolos Group brings together heads of state from EU member countries that have parliamentary rather than presidential models of government, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The group is named after the small Portuguese town where the first such meeting took place in 2003.

Question of WWII reparations for Poland closed: German FM

Germany's top diplomat Annalena Baerbock said during a visit to Warsaw on Tuesday that the question of WWII reparations for Poland was closed, according to media reports.

She reiterated the German government's position that the matter was settled, the Reuters news agency reported.

A day earlier, Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signed a formal diplomatic note to the German government to demand reparations for World War II at a televised news conference in Warsaw.

Rau said on Monday that the document “reflects the Polish foreign minister’s conviction that parties should take steps without delay to regulate legally and materially, in a lasting, comprehensive and final manner, the consequences of German aggression and occupation in the years between 1939 and 1945.”

He added that a "settlement" between Warsaw and Berlin would “lead to the closure of painful chapters from the past and ensure further growth of bilateral relations in the spirit of good neighbourliness and friendly cooperation.”

Warsaw seeks good cooperation with Berlin on WWII reparations: Polish FM

Rau told reporters at a joint news conference with Baerbock in Warsaw on Tuesday that Poland was "counting on good cooperation" with the German government on resolving the issue of reparations.

report released in Warsaw at the start of last month put Poland’s WWII losses due to the German invasion and occupation at EUR 1.3 trillion. 

Poland's conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński said at the time that "a decision has been made to raise the issue of World War II reparations with Berlin."

Kaczyński added: “It’s about securing compensation, maybe through a long and arduous process, for everything that Germany, the German state, the German nation, did to Poland between 1939 and 1945.” 

The lower house of Poland's parliament in mid-September adopted a resolution calling on the German government “to explicitly assume political, historical, legal and financial responsibility for all the consequences caused in the Republic of Poland and to the citizens of the Republic of Poland as a result of the German Third Reich starting World War II.”

The resolution, drafted by Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, was approved in a 418-4 vote, with 15 abstentions.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last month: “I am convinced that we will receive reparations from Germany, although it won’t happen quickly."

He added: "Even the most difficult journey begins with the first step."


Source: IAR, PAP