07/09/2017
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Poland and Germany in dispute over WWII

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Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, has accused Germany of shirking responsibility for the destruction inflicted on the country.

However, the talk of reparations comes as the PiS government faces criticism at home and abroad, since taking office in 2015, for a number of reforms that, opponents say, erode democratic standards and the rule of law. 

French President, Emmanuel Macron, commented that Poland was going, "… against European interests,” while German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, described the statements coming out of Poland as a, "… serious issue.” 

The EU meanwhile, launched legal action in July against the Polish government over reforms that it fears will limit judicial independence – which are incompatible with EU rules.

Meanwhile, Polish Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, said that Poland and Germany should hold serious talks about World War II reparation. Witold told a local radio station, "We should sit down to serious talks with the Germans and together think about how to deal with the issue of reparations. How can we deal with the fact that Germany's 1939 attack and unresolved post-war issues still cast a shadow on Polish-German relations?"

Polish Interior Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, claimed that Poland could claim up to one trillion dollars from Germany.

The case for reparation has previously been settled by the two countries, twice. However, Poland's government disputes the validity of a 1953 resolution by Warsaw's then-communist authorities, claiming it was signed under pressure from the Soviet Union.

The claims have been dismissed by a German parliamentary legal team, which said a second agreement, a 27-year-old treaty, signed around the time of Germany's reunification, settled all reparation issues related to Nazi-era crimes. The legal team, which provides independent advice to the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, said Poland, "Had, during the treaty negotiations, at least implicitly waived their right to assert them (claims for reparations)," and that the treaty, "… blocks any reparation demands against Germany to the present day."

The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, signed in September 1990, which saw the four powers - France, the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States - that occupied the country at the end of World War II formally renounce all rights, facilitating the full return of German sovereignty. The accord confirmed the internationally recognised border with Poland and prohibited Germany from any further claims on Polish territory. It was signed as the Soviet Union was about to break up, with both East Germany and West Germany, as well as the subsequently reunified Germany, signing. Germany has previously declared that this 1990 treaty makes clear that no further reparations are due to any other claimant stemming from World War II.

 

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