Breaking with tradition, Germanleader visits Poland before France

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 July 2004 , BERLIN - Germany's new president, Horst Koehler, begins his first official trip since taking office with a visit to Poland on Thursday - a break with post-war tradition which has mandated the head of state first travel to France. The move has delighted Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. "This is a sign of how close our relations have become," said the Polish leader in an interview with Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper. President Koehler - whose office is mainly ceremonial - was born in

15 July 2004

BERLIN - Germany's new president, Horst Koehler, begins his first official trip since taking office with a visit to Poland on Thursday - a break with post-war tradition which has mandated the head of state first travel to France.

The move has delighted Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

"This is a sign of how close our relations have become," said the Polish leader in an interview with Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper.

President Koehler - whose office is mainly ceremonial - was born in Poland in 1943 in the village of Skierbieszow. His family was forced to flee at the end of World War II as did millions of ethnic Germans from the region.

Kwasniewski underlined that Koehler's birthplace would bolster bilateral ties.

Koehler will have talks in Warsaw and visit the city of Danzig where he will lay a wreath in memory of Polish victims of the Nazi German invasion of Poland which started World War II on 1 September 1939.

More than 5 million Poles - including 3 million Jews - were killed during World War II.

In a bid to balance protocol, Koehler will fly straight from Poland to France for a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac on Friday.

In a possible comfort to French sensibilities, Koehler made his first surprise foreign trip to Austria last Saturday to attend the funeral of of Austrian President Thomas Klestil.

Koehler, a conservative, took office on 1 July.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article