Poland downplays tensions with Germany over 'anti-Polish' comments

11th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Poland on Monday sought to downplay tension with EU and NATO partner Germany over comments by German politicians that Warsaw earlier slammed as "anti-Polish".

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski took the rare measure of summoning the German ambassador after several German and other European politicians criticised recent media and justice reforms by Poland's new right-wing government as an erosion of liberties.

"We don't have tense relations with Germany," Waszczykowski told reporters following Monday talks in Warsaw with Germany's ambassador, Rolf Nikel.

"A visit by German politicians to Poland would be the best solution, so they can see that Polish democracy is not doing as poorly as they might think," he added.

Nikel echoed the Polish minister, describing their talks as "constructive" and Polish-German relations as a "treasure we wish to safeguard so they can flourish".

Relations between Berlin and Warsaw have been strained since the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) returned to power in Poland in October after eight years in opposition.

Tens of thousands of Poles have since taken to the streets to protest swift moves by the PiS to enact legislation giving it control over Poland's top court and its public broadcasters.

On Sunday, Polish foreign ministry spokesman Artur Dmochowski refused to say what German comments Warsaw interpreted as being "anti-Polish" and which politician had uttered them.

But last month, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat, compared the political situation in Poland to a "coup", prompting Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to demand apology.

Schulz went further Sunday, telling a leading German daily that the PiS's moves constitute a "dangerous 'putinization' of European politics", drawing a comparison to the hardline governing style of Russian strongman, President Vladimir Putin.

The eurosceptic PiS has also said it will financially support EU efforts to tackle the refugee crisis, but has made it clear Poland would not take in migrants.

The stance has put it on a collision course with Germany, which took in 1.1 million asylum-seekers last year -- the largest group among them coming from Syria -- and has called on all EU members to accept their fair share.

© 2016 AFP

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