Politicians across Europe cheered Sunday’s projected victory by Polish opposition forces — especially in Germany, the favorite target of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party.
“I expect that Poland will become a constructive partner and that the change in government will strengthen its standing in Europe,” Terry Reintke, a German MEP who is co-leader of the Greens in the European Parliament, told German radio. “Poland is an extremely relevant democracy for Europe.“
German-Polish relations have suffered in recent years amid persistent demands from Law and Justice (PiS) leaders that Germany pay more than €1 trillion in war reparations.
Anti-German sentiment also fueled the party’s election campaign, including regular accusations that Donald Tusk, the leader of the opposition Civic Coalition and likely next prime minister, was a “German agent.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock sought to improve relations last year, traveling to Warsaw on Germany’s national day as a sign of respect for an important ally and neighbor.
Instead of welcoming the gesture, however, Poland’s leadership presented her with a bill for war crimes.
Given that history of belligerence, which was also palpable during former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tenure, German politicians from across the spectrum called on their government to seize the moment and take the relationship in a new direction.
“German should start an initiative to revive bilateral relations if there’s a change in government,” Social Democratic MP Metin Hakverdi, a member of the German parliament’s EU committee, wrote on X, adding that strengthening security cooperation should be the focus. “Within the NATO framework, the message should be: Germany feels responsible for Poland’s security!”
Katja Leikert, a member of the German parliament with the center-right Christian Democrats who sits on its foreign relations committee, said the election results “give hope” to Europe.
“To once again have a pro-democratic and pro-European government in Warsaw would be of enormous importance to Europe, especially in this time of crisis,” she said on X.
Rolf Nikel, who bore the brunt of PiS anti-German posturing for many years as Germany’s ambassador to Warsaw, was even more effusive.
“Polish voters have created spring in the middle of October,” he told German public television. [Continue reading…]