Is Berlin interfering in Poland's internal affairs?
A comment made by German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen in a TV talk show has elicited an outraged response from the government in Poland. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski accused her of interfering in his country's internal affairs after she called for support for the "healthy democratic resistance" in Poland. Some commentators criticise Warsaw, saying it is setting Germany up as a bogeyman. For others, it's up to Berlin to improve the relations between the two countries.
The onus is on Berlin
Polish-German relations need to remain stable in the medium and long term, writes Jerzy Haszczyński, former Berlin correspondent for Rzeczpospolita:
“All the hue and cry about the statements by the German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen doesn't bode well for relations between the two countries. ... How will they advance, and what will the situation be in three years' time? After all, the PiS could potentially still be in power. ... And what will happen in ten years, if - say - German nationalism balloons dramatically due to the economic and social consequences of the wave of immigration? It's up to both sides to think about our common future. But Germany's responsibility is greater - because of its history and its current strength.”
PiS needs Germany as an enemy
Gestures of reconciliation from Germany don't fit in with the Polish government's narrative, which explains why it refuses to recognise a Berlin citizens' initiative aimed at erecting a monument to Polish victims of National Socialism, Bartosz Wieliński writes in Gazeta Wyborcza:
“I look at the website of the [state broadcaster] TVP Info, the PiS's main propaganda organ. The first piece of information about Germany is right at the bottom of the page. Yet another commentary by Foreign Minister Witold Wasczykowski about German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen's comment. ... But is there anything about the monument to the murdered Poles? The minister and the broadcaster remain silent on that matter. The current government needs Germany as an enemy for its propaganda in order to do well in the opinion polls.”
A red line has been crossed
The German defence minister's comments are completely unacceptable, the pro-government news website wPolityce.pl rails:
“Insisting that Germany should fly in the face of the democratically elected Polish government and 'support the resistance' far exceeds any accepted limit and above any conventions prevailing between friendly nations which recognise each other's sovereignty. ... These are the harshest words that any Western politician has used against our country until now. I'm not aware of any member of the German government ever adopting a comparable tone with other countries. ... The defence minister has done enormous harm to Polish-German relations.”
Von der Leyen is on Poland's side
If you examine the German defence minister's statement in its proper context you realise how committed Von der Leyen is to Poland and Eastern Europe, writes the former Germany correspondent and current foreign affairs editor of the Gazeta Wyborcza, Bartosz T. Wieliński:
“Von der Leyen repeated in a one-and-a-half minute statement Poland's stance on the EU reforms: no decision that affects us will be made without us. She defended Poland and the entire region against West Europe's attitude of superiority and against those who want to continue treating the East like poor relatives. We should thank her for these words. If [Foreign Minister] Witold Waszczykowski claims to have found evidence of a 'German concept for supporting the opposition' in a single sentence, then that reflects poorly on him rather than on anyone else.”