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article imagePoland wants talks with Germany on WWII payout: minister

By AFP     Sep 4, 2017 in World

Poland and Germany should hold "serious talks" about World War II reparations, the Polish foreign minister said Monday, after his colleague said the figure could be as high as one trillion dollars.

"We should sit down to serious talks with the Germans and together think about how to deal with the issue" of reparations, Witold Waszczykowski told the local commercial RMF radio station.

"How can we deal with the fact that Germany's 1939 attack (on Poland) and unresolved post-war issues still cast a shadow on Polish-German relations?" he said.

Warsaw was "preparing" its formal position on WWII reparations, Waszczykowski said, without specifying when it would be made public.

"The fact is that Poland was destroyed during the war, terrible crimes were committed here, and we have received no compensation for that," he said.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Saturday said Warsaw could claim one trillion dollars from Germany.

Poland's rightwing government disputes the validity of a 1953 resolution by Warsaw's then communist authorities, who dropped claims against Germany, insisting the deal was struck under the diktat of the Soviet Union.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of Poland's governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, has accused Germany of shirking its responsibility for the massive wartime damage it inflicted on his country.

Six million Polish citizens, including around three million of Jewish origin, were killed under Nazi German occupation between 1939-45. The capital Warsaw was virtually razed to the ground.

According to a survey by the independent Ibris pollsters published late last month, 51 percent of Poles oppose any reparations claims against Germany, while 24 percent believe claims ought to be made.

The talk of reparations comes as the PiS government faces heavy fire both at home and abroad since taking office in 2015 for a slew of reforms that critics say erode democratic standards and the rule of law.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that Poland was going "against European interests", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Poland a "serious issue".

The EU launched legal action in July against the government over reforms that it fears will limit judicial independence.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo also rejected claims that her government's actions were gradually pushing Poland out of the EU, calling the allegations "the greatest of lies, a horrible manipulation" and insisting that "we want to be in the EU, we value it".

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