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Poland says role in Czechoslovakia’s annexation a ‘sin’

Gdansk — Polish President Lech Kaczynski termed Warsaw’s role in Germany’s annexation of the former Czechoslovakia as a "sin" at ceremonies marking 70 years of the start of World War II.

"Poland’s participation in the annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 was not only an error, but above all a sin," Kaczynski told world leaders attending the ceremonies in the Baltic port city of Gdansk.

"This was and shall forever remain a wrong," Kaczynski added.

Those attending the event included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Polish head of state also said the 1938 Munich Agreement between France, Britain and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had the effect of "violating the integrity of Czechoslovakia."

Poland annexed the Polish-dominated Zaolzie region of Czechoslovakia in October 1938 following the Munich Agreement at the same time Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland region.

Earlier Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin referred to Poland’s role in the annexation of Czechoslovakia on two separate occasions on Tuesday.

"We in Poland know how to recognise an error without looking for justifications," Kaczynski said, making it clear he expected Russia to do the same regarding the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact of non-aggression, which secretly agreed the partition of Poland.

While Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west on September 1, 1939, sparking the Second World War, Soviet Russia attacked it from the east on September 17, 1939.

The two sides turned from allies into enemies in 1941 after the Nazis attacked the Soviets.