Merkel urges EU treaty as foundation of unity
16 March 2007, Warsaw (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called in Warsaw Friday for greater unity among the 27 members of the European Union in order for the bloc to be a "global player" capable of meeting the economic and political challenges of the modern world. Key to that unity was the adoption of a blanket constitution, she said. Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union and has made jump-starting work on the stalled constitutional treaty a top priority. In
16 March 2007
Warsaw (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called in Warsaw Friday for greater unity among the 27 members of the European Union in order for the bloc to be a "global player" capable of meeting the economic and political challenges of the modern world.
Key to that unity was the adoption of a blanket constitution, she said. Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union and has made jump-starting work on the stalled constitutional treaty a top priority.
In an address at Warsaw University, Merkel also called for the EU to forge ahead with greater technological innovation, achieve energy security through greater use of renewable resources, slash bureaucracy and strengthen ties with NATO, top trade partner the US as well as Russia.
In a gesture apparently aimed at easing bilateral tensions with Poland over historical disputes, Merkel acknowledged the pivotal role of Poland's 1980s anti-communist Solidarity trade union in having triggered the post-1989 collapse of communism throughout the Soviet bloc and thus "opening the gates" to German reunification.
"There is a treasure here which must be cherished," Merkel said in reference to Poland's Solidarity trade union legacy. Merkel herself grew up under the oppressive communist regime in East Germany.
Merkel stressed the German government "does not and will never" support compensation claims against Poland by ethnic Germans expelled from Eastern Europe in 1945 after the Second World War defeat of Nazi Germany.
However, she acknowledged the right of German World War II expellees to "remember with dignity" their suffering.
"To remember with dignity for me is when not only German expellees and refugees, but also others, including of course Polish expellees and refugees, can remember their suffering," Merkel said.
Outrage flared in Poland in recent years over an exhibition by a group called the German Union of Expellees focused on the tragic fate of millions of ethnic Germans who fled Eastern Europe in the wake of the fall of Nazi Germany.
Poles feared the move could lead to a revision of history in which Nazi Germany would cease to bear responsibility for causing the human suffering of the Second World War.
The German chancellor met with President Lech Kaczynski following the lecture at Warsaw University, but the leaders made public few details of their intended private consultations at a the Polish president's Baltic Sea-side Jurata summer residence.
"I deeply believe that this time which we will spend at the sea-side will not be wasted," President Kaczynski told reporters prior to the departure to the Hel Peninsula.
Long talks in Jurata behind close doors and away from media glare are expected to focus on the EU draft constitution, the possible installation of US missile shield bases in Poland as well as warming up chilled bilateral relations.
The German chancellor has urged NATO involvement in the missile shield, under discusion between the US, Poland and the Czech Republic. Merkel also called for an "open discussion" with Russia, which strongly opposes the planned shield.
Merkel began a two-day official visit in Poland Friday on an optimistic note with what Poland's conservative Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski termed "short but substantial" talks.
"I'm happy with what happened in the last 30 minutes," Prime Minister Kaczynski in a briefing with Merkel at Warsaw's military airport immediately following her arrival early Friday afternoon.
"If the rest of the visit will progress like this, we will really have something to be happy about," he said.
Chancellor Merkel also said her visit as both the top German leader and current head of the European Union's rotating presidency was a "signal" of good relations with EU partner Poland.
Merkel received white lilies and a red-carpet welcome at Warsaw's military airport from conservative Law and Justice (PiS) Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski upon her arrival.
The German chancellor is scheduled to return to Berlin Saturday afternoon.
Subject: German news