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Polish FM says ‘no reason’ to modify bill criticised by Israel

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 31.01.2018 11:50
Poland’s foreign minister on Wednesday said he saw “no reason” his country should modify a proposed law that could mean a jail term for anyone who accuses the nation of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: Kancelaria Premiera [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsPolish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. Photo: Kancelaria Premiera [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to public broadcaster TVP 1, Jacek Czaputowicz said that the controversial law, which has been criticised by Israeli officials, was designed to "stop the smear campaign against Poland for its alleged involvement in the crime of the Holocaust.”

If enacted, the new regulations would carry penalties for anyone who publicly ascribes blame to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany.

The bill, which passed the lower house of Poland's parliament on Friday, has yet to be approved by the Senate, the upper house, and signed into law by the president.

Czaputowicz told TVP 1 that “critical voices that have appeared are not justified.”

He said: “The only thing we can do is to calmly explain what the purpose of the law is and to talk with our partners at the diplomatic level, but also through social dialogue."

Czaputowicz noted that, despite suggestions to the contrary, the proposed law would not limit the freedom of academic research.

He also said that the Polish parliament was “sovereign” and would not “be swayed by external pressure.”

Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski told public broadcaster Polish Radio on Wednesday that the regulations passed by the lower house were likely to be endorsed by the country’s senators without further modifications.

‘No Polish death camps’: gov't spokeswoman

Government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska on Tuesday evening said that no changes were envisaged in the planned regulations.

Speaking to private broadcaster TV Republika, Kopcińska said that Poland “cannot surrender to a wave” of comments “that depict Poland and the Polish people in false light."

She also said that "the Polish state never performed any actions that could harm another nation."

“We were the victim [in World War II], and although we were attacked and occupied as a country we provided help and rescue to others,” Kopcińska said.

"It was the Germans who attacked Poland, while the Poles and Jews were the victims,” Kopcińska added. "There were no Polish death camps, no Polish concentration camps or Polish extermination camps. We must set the record straight by continually explaining and clarifying things.”

Israeli ambassador hopes tensions can be resolved

Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, told Poland’s Rzeczpospolita daily that she hoped tensions between her country and Poland could be resolved by working groups from both nations that are due to conduct dialogue on the matter.

Next week, the head of the Polish president’s National Security Bureau (BBN), Paweł Soloch, is expected to visit Israel while in April the Polish and Israeli presidents are scheduled to take part in the annual March of the Living at the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Azari told public broadcaster Polish Radio on Wednesday.

She appealed for efforts to calm and resolve the situation, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

The Polish and Israeli prime ministers have agreed their countries would hold dialogue.

GermanDeathCamps.info, a new educational website aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust, has been launched by Polish Radio.


Source: IAR/Polish Radio, PAP, wiadomosci.onet.pl

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