Foreign ministers open "new chapter" in relations

6th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

6th December 2007, Steinmeier said discussions were underway on reopening regular German-Polish government consultations in the months ahead, possibly as early as the first half of next year.

6th December 2007

Steinmeier said discussions were underway on reopening regular German-Polish government consultations in the months ahead, possibly as early as the first half of next year.

Sikorski, appointed after elections in October were won by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, said relations with Germany would in future be conducted in an open way aimed at raising mutual confidence, "We are ready to open a new chapter in our relations."

He nevertheless expressed continuing Polish concern about plans for a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to link Russia and Germany directly.

"The Polish viewpoint has not changed," Sikorski said, expressing concern about decisions taken without consultation. "But dialogue should be conducted."

The two foreign ministers also addressed the contentious issue of the ethnic Germans expelled from countries like Poland and the then Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II.

Steinmeier repeated that the German government would not support efforts by some of the "expellees" and their descendants to claim property in Poland.

But he insisted that a decision on establishing a visible memorial to the victims of the expulsions - likely to be a document centre in the German Historical Museum in Berlin - would be for Germany alone to make.

"This remains a German decision," he said, while also pledging that Warsaw would be consulted.

The two foreign ministers announced they would be joint patrons of a project to rebuild the almost totally destroyed late Gothic church in Gubin on the border with Germany.

Before World War II, Gubin and its German counterpart Guben were one town on both banks of the River Neisse. Poland's borders were shifted eastward after the war, dividing the town.

Relations between the two neighbours plummeted during the two years in office of former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of President Lech Kaczynski.

DPA

Subject: German news, Germany, Poland, relations

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