Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has pledged assistance to Poland and all of Central and Eastern Europe in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. "We will be there for you, just as you were there for us when we needed you most," said the Greens politician at a celebration of the German embassy in the Polish capital of Warsaw on German Unity Day. The security of Eastern Europe is Germany's security. "You can rely on that," she called out to the guests from Poland.
October 3rd commemorates German reunification in 1990, just under a year after the peaceful revolution in the GDR in autumn 1989. In the 1980s, the Poles overcame the communist regime with protests and thus initiated the turning point in Eastern Europe.
"We will not let up in our support for Ukraine" - together with our partners in the EU and NATO, stressed Baerbock. "Because we Germans will never forget that we have our allies and neighbors to thank for our life in freedom, in a reunified country in the heart of Europe."
Baerbock: "Friendship of hearts between millions of people"
Germany and Poland are forever connected, said Baerbock. "What we have is a friendship of the heart between millions of people, a friendship and partnership that is stronger than political disagreements." This friendship has to be worked on again and again, "no matter how challenging it may be sometimes," she said against the background of Polish reparations claims in the trillions.
For seven months, Europe has been experiencing "a war that is writing a new chapter in our history with a brutal pen," said Baerbock. The Ukrainians fought not only for the survival of their country, but for a free Europe. "Right now we are experiencing how an effective European Union is not an end in itself, but our common life insurance."
Warsaw wants "final legal and substantive settlement"
Shortly before Baerbock's visit, Poland's PiS government had reinforced its demands for reparations from Germany: Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signed a corresponding diplomatic note that is to be handed over to Berlin. PiS boss Jaroslaw Kaczynski also reproached the federal government on Sunday for striving for "German supremacy" in the EU.
Rau said the note "expresses the Polish Foreign Minister's conviction that the parties should take immediate steps towards a lasting, comprehensive and final legal and material settlement of the consequences of German aggression and occupation in 1939-1945."
On the 83rd anniversary of the start of the Second World War on September 1st, a parliamentary commission in Warsaw presented a report in which the damage caused by World War II in Poland was estimated at more than 1.3 trillion euros.
Poland's foreign minister did not name a specific amount. However, Rau made it clear that according to Warsaw, a regulation must include "the payment of compensation by Germany for the material and immaterial damage that the Polish state suffered as a result of this aggression and occupation". Victims of the German occupiers and their family members would also have to be compensated. A regulation must also be found for the stolen cultural assets and archives.
The federal government rejects the demand for reparations. In doing so, she refers to the Two Plus Four Agreement of 1990 on the foreign policy consequences of German unity.