Reparations: Poland presents Germany with the bill
The conservative Polish PiS government is asking Germany for 1.3 trillion euros in reparations for the damages it suffered during World War II. The sum is based on a report commissioned in 2017 which was published on Thursday. Berlin has so far rejected all demands for reparations from Warsaw. In Poland too, there is also opposition to the PiS's move.
Don't instrumentalise the demands
Those in Poland who oppose the calls for reparations fear social division, editor-in-chief Bogusław Chrabota explains in Rzeczpospolita:
“Many countries that suffered under occupation from 1939 to 1945 are seeking reparations. Poland also has the right to do so. However, this should be done without excessive emotionalism, without banging the drum on the legal or state stage. And the issue should not be used to polarise Poles, even though that is probably what the PiS is all about. If the reparations issue starts a new Polish-Polish war, it will be detrimental to Polish democracy.”
Only the Germans are consistent
Both Poland's government and the opposition are approaching the issue in the wrong way, Interia puts in:
“Those in power behave as if the issue of reparations is something that can be brought up with Germany time after time. Politicians from Civic Platform under Donald Tusk, on the other hand, often come across as defenders of Germany's interests. They leave no doubt that the issue would be buried forever if Donald Tusk's camp came to power. Only the Germans are consistent. They avoid this touchy issue like the devil avoids holy water, and support those in Poland who do not want reparations.”
It all comes down to attitude
There are political measures that would be more convincing than paying reparations, Der Tagesspiegel argues:
“Treating Poland as an equal partner, for example. For example, in the dispute over the fish die-off in the Oder River, in which there are those in Germany who have made hasty and largely unsubstantiated judgements and now want to go back on the agreed expansion of the waterway, which Poland needs as much as Germany needs the Rhine. Or in the matter of military cooperation. Poland has become so annoyed by Germany's hesitation that it prefers to build the new tanks with South Korea. Do everything to make the Poles put their trust in the Germans on security matters: that would be a powerful lesson from history.”
How will Berlin react?
This confrontation is the last thing the world needs now, says Adevărul:
“This opens up another area of tensions at the Nato and EU level that neither body needs right now. It's impossible to predict the outcome of the dispute. But what is certain is that there will be an unforeseen and not at all desirable financial confrontation between the allies, and in the current conditions financial issues of this magnitude can easily lead to major disagreements. On the other hand, we'll see how Germany reacts now that its back is up against the wall again.”