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Kwasniewski lashes out at Germany

12 January 2004

HAMBURG – Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has expressed worries about his country’s tensions with Germany in the dispute over voting powers under the future European Union constitution, and accused the Germans of always “demanding gratitude” from Warsaw.

In an interview in the latest issue of the weekly Der Spiegel, Kwasniewski said there should be “greater trust” between Germany and Poland if a compromise is to be reached in the EU voting rights debate.

The Warsaw leader said he was perplexed by German expectations that Poland must be grateful for Berlin having backed early Polish entry into the EU.

Poles were naturally grateful for the support he said, but then added that the Germans should also be grateful for the fact that “we began the battle against communism” and so made a contribution to German reunification.

His remark was an apparent reference to the challenge to the communist regime which the “Solidarity” trade union began in the early 1980s, several years before the collapse of communism throughout eastern Europe, including the former East Germany.

“Germans who have a historical consciousness cannot be exclusively demanding gratitude,” Kwasniewski said.

The Polish president said he was convinced a compromise in the EU voting powers issue could be reached, but at the moment the “frontlines have hardened” in German-Polish relations.

Kwaswniewski repeated Warsaw’s backing for the Nice draft on voting powers which would boost Germany’s voting rights. Under that plan, Germany with its 82.5 million people would have 29 votes in a future EU legislature, while Poland, with 38.7 million people, would have 27 votes.

Any increase Germany’s voting power would be expected to “stir conflicts in France and Britain”, Kwaniewski told Der Spiegel.


Subject: German news