Merkel in Poland: pretty words without substance?

Chancellor Merkel made her last state visit to Poland on Saturday. In talks with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki she appealed for intensified dialogue in the judicial dispute with Brussels and tried to allay concerns about the now completed Nordstream 2 gas pipeline. Commentators say the chancellor has been too lax with the PiS government so far, but some detect a change of stance now.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Germany at last getting involved

For Rzeczpospolita, Merkel has changed her strategy with this visit:

“She has realised that the danger of the dispute between Warsaw and Brussels getting out of hand is serious, and that a Polexit would not only be a geopolitical disaster for Poland but would also have a negative impact on Germany's economic interests. ... For that reason the chancellor has promised to participate in efforts to reach an agreement. Poland, for its part, has promised to abolish the Disciplinary Chamber, a gesture that was necessary to close at least one area of conflict. ... Merkel's proposal is groundbreaking in that so far the German government's position has been that this dispute should be resolved between Brussels and Warsaw.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Six wasted years

For the Frankfurter Rundschau the chancellor's last trip to Poland was more of a rote visit:

“A wreath-laying ceremony, a few friendly words of admonition - that was it. ... Since the right-wing nationalist PiS came to power in Warsaw, Merkel has opted for a strategy of appeasement. Occasionally she has admonished or even quietly threatened. Otherwise, the chancellor shifted her focus to historical matters and the culture of remembrance. ... But an empathetic look back is no substitute for a forward-looking policy. And overall, Merkel has wasted six long years. She delegated the tough issues to Brussels.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

PiS will miss the lenient chancellor

Germany's stance vis-à-vis the Polish government is likely to be tougher after the Bundestag elections, says Gazeta Wyborcza:

“Deaf to the anti-German campaign in Poland, Merkel repeatedly stressed that Germany should give its neighbour time, show patience and neither take action against it nor force it to move in any given direction. ... Elections will soon take place in Germany after which the era of friendliness could come to an end. ... A future government is hard to imagine without the Greens, a party that will not remain silent about Poland's slide into authoritarianism. And if the Social Democrat Scholz becomes chancellor the PiS camp is even more likely to lose the concessions it benefited from under Merkel. ... What is certain is that the PiS politicians will miss this chancellor.”