Monday, 2 July 2007

Oh! What a lovely Warsaw!

The Intelligence Digest has been reporting for over a year now on the dire state of German-Polish relations: they reached a new low at the Brussels summit in June 2007 which produced agreement on the new treaty to replace the defunct constitution. If the German press is any indication, however, the Germans are furious at way the Poles behaved. Polophobia has broken out everywhere. Commentators have praised to the heights the way the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, dealt with the recalcitrant twins from Warsaw – Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the President and Prime Minister of Poland. One newspaper denounced the way the summit went as “a farce” while another referred to “The Polish patient”, a variation of the film title, “The English patient” which expresses, for Germans, all that is wrong with the English attitude towards Europe. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that, all in all, European integration would continue thanks to the new treaty, in spite of the rejectionist votes in France and the Netherlands and in spite of the demands of the United Kingdom: Poland, however, had behaved in a totally different way from the other Eurosceptic nations, and the Polish government had brought a “hitherto unknown, destructive style” into European politics. The Kaczynski brothers, the newspaper said, had tried to isolate Germany in the EU but that in fact their actions were purely self-serving. Poland, the paper says, is happy to take EU money – a sum approximately equivalent to Germany’s own net contribution – and she is happy to accept other financial support from Germany directly but the Poles behave as if Germany owed them even more. The paper said that Lech Kacyznski had now made it possible to continue his “destructive” polities for the coming years. “This is the demon of an age which many had thought past, whose poisonous breath is now blowing through the glass palaces of modern Europe.” [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 24 June 2007]

The Handelsblatt, meanwhile, called the Poles’ behaviour “a farce” because Lech Kaczynski, the President, was in Brussels, while his brother, Jaroslaw, the Prime Minister, was in fact in the driving seat back in Warsaw. While the President was having dinner with the other EU leaders on Friday night, 22nd June 2007, Jaroslaw Kacyznski was denouncing the German proposals on TV in Poland. The worst moment – which the paper called “absurd” – came when Jaroslaw Kacyznski said that if there had not been the Second World War, then the Polish population would be 60 million and therefore, for that reason, Poland deserved more votes in the Council of Ministers. It was only after massive intervention with Jaroslaw Kacyznski – phone calls to Warsaw from Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy, the Luxembourg premier, JosĂ© Luis Zapatero of Spain – that the Poles were brought round. [Handelsblatt, 24 June 2007]

The Polish press have returned the compliments, venting their spleen against the Germans in general and Frau Merkel in particular. The conservative magazine, Wprost, caricatured her as “Europe’s stepmother” suckling the Kaczynski twins at her ample breasts. The newspaper said that Germany had shown its “post-colonial reflexes” in its dealings with Poland. Sixty years after the war, it said, Germany was still unable to treat Poland as a partner. German politicians and the media had launched a “frontal assault” on Poland. Germany had gone from being Poland’s advocate to its adversary. Meanwhile the daily paper, Rzeczpospolita, commented, “One has the impression that German politicians have lost the ability to distinguish the German interest from the European interest.”

---- An excerpt from John Laughland's Intelligence Digest. For a free e-mail subscription to the Intelligence Digest, please click here. ----

1 comment:

r.goldbach said...

Indeed there must be something going on with Germany and POland ...

we haven't had such a huge reaction on a "Shirt of the week" in a long time ...