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After the Merz visit: German double message to Poland

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To: 07/28/2022 18:41

CDU leader Merz is courted in Warsaw, which is unusual for opposition politicians. Above all, his criticism of the federal government’s lame tank ring exchange is well received in Poland. In other respects, they have little in common.

By Jan Pallokat, ARD Studio Warsaw

Until now, Friedrich Merz was unknown to a wider audience in Poland. But with his two-day visit to Warsaw, which is to be complemented by a trip to Lithuania, the leader of the Union faction has managed to attract attention – measured by the reports on the visit to Poland with a tone totally positive.

Berlin’s Ukraine policy has recently come under fire in Warsaw, which went well beyond the nationally motivated “German bashing” that had become almost routine in Poland under the PiS party and is shared by other states as well. of the region. Berlin is still acting too timidly and without solidarity, where determination and a clear position are needed. In particular, the failing tank ring exchange, i.e. Germany’s proposed replacement of heavy equipment for tanks delivered from Poland to Ukraine, had recently sown bad blood: a Deputy Foreign Minister in Warsaw had even spoken of “fraud” and that the exchange “failed” and was little more than a “public relations gag”.

Merz rejects mediator titles

Merz himself warned in Warsaw that Germany should play a more concise role in foreign policy, and countries like Poland would also expect this: “I would even say that Germany should play a leading role plan. But he also tried to relativize his own role as a visitor to Warsaw: he came not as a foreign policy mediator, but for normal political talks, he told reporters. The trip had been planned for weeks and had nothing to do with the current issues.

On Phoenix, Merz reported that he tried to dispel the allegations against Germany. “But I couldn’t refute them on all levels.”

He himself was received almost like a chancellor, spoke with the leaders of the opposition, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and for more than an hour with the leader of the PiS party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who does not invite often foreign guests. However, the initiative for the meeting came from Merz, according to a PiS spokesperson.

The central issues were therefore the war in Ukraine, German-Polish relations, but also the question of reparations from the Second World War was raised again and again in discussions with PiS politicians, he said. Among other things, Merz also met with representatives of the German minority in Poland, which sees itself under pressure from cuts in mother tongue education.

Little in common with Kaczynski

Kaczynski recently resigned from his government duties to devote himself fully to preparations for next year’s elections, especially as his party is at an all-time low in the polls. As usual, he repeatedly attacked Germany and again indicated that Poland may soon seek compensation for the German occupation during the Second World War: a hitherto secret report on the extent of the damage could be published on September 1 – anniversary of the German occupation. invasion of Poland – forthcoming.

At the same time, however, Kaczynski sees in Merz a key to improving relations with Germany, speculated the commentator of the online portal “Wirtualna Polska”, why the powerful party leader still took time for the leader of the German opposition.

Although Kaczynski, with his heart problems, probably won’t be able to do much for Merz either. In any case, the German politician expressed few differences of opinion on the classic contentious and contentious issues of recent years from those who have recently borne or bear responsibility in Germany: he saw no legal basis for world war reparations, he told the PiS boss, Merz said after the meeting with Kaczynski. Rather, it advocates a vision for the future and common projects, for example in the field of cybersecurity. Ongoing EU proceedings against Poland are also “justified on the basis of the Treaties”.

The dispute over Polish “judicial reform” is again deadlocked, even after the formal suppression of a controversial disciplinary body; So far, Brussels hasn’t been content with ‘reform of reform’, but in Warsaw it is said that things have been delivered.

“The German voice of reason”

It’s different when it comes to “exchanging rings”: Here Merz clearly distanced himself from the actual officials in Berlin – but not in the Bundestag, but abroad, which is quite tricky for a representative of Germany. He had perceived a “disappointment” among his interlocutors in Warsaw, which should not be confirmed now, Merz told the press. He demanded that the federal government keep the promises it had made and provide Poland with a suitable replacement for the 250 Soviet-style tanks the country had made available to Ukraine. “It’s a third of the inventory of the Polish army,” Merz points out. “And Germany’s offer was 20 replacement tanks. I can understand that it’s not being enthusiastically received here.”

This positioning of Merz should be understood as part of a struggle to soon provide a Christian Democrat chancellor again, the government-critical portal “Na Temat” tried to classify Merz’s visit. Merz could make a name for himself as someone who straightened out difficult relations with Central and Eastern European states.

Commentators have expressed doubts as to whether an opposition politician’s rhetoric will actually lead to a change in policy if there is a change of power in Berlin. And yet, Merz has also received sympathetic comments from circles that normally tend to criticize Germans and Germany. We were talking about perhaps one of the “most pro-Poland German politicians” in the government camp or a “German voice of reason”, as the arch-Catholic radio station “Radio Maryja” commented. of a sociologist.

It is quite possible that Warsaw also wanted to send a signal to the federal government with special attention to the leader of the CDU: we are really unhappy and expect more.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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