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Friday 22 September 2017

Merkel 'trying to erase Poland from WWII memory'

German leader Angela Merkel. Photo: AP
German leader Angela Merkel. Photo: AP

Kim Ripoll in Warsaw

The Polish defence minister has accused the leaders of Germany and France of trying to "erase from Europe's historical memory" the tragic fate Poland suffered during World War II at German hands.

Antoni Macierewicz made his remarks during a visit to Sulejow, a small town in central Poland that yesterday marked the 78th anniversary of being bombarded by the German Luftwaffe at the start of the war.

The minister said he wanted to remind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron of the Polish wartime suffering, when six million Polish citizens were killed and Polish cities and villages were destroyed.

The comment comes amid growing tensions between Poland's conservative-nationalist government and both Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron, who have recently criticised perceived rule of law violations by the Warsaw leaders.

Earlier, Turkish officials denounced Mrs Merkel and Martin Schulz, her main opponent in this month's general election, for their anti-Turkish rhetoric during a televised debate.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for the Turkish presidency, said that Mrs Merkel and her Social Democratic Party rival are seeking to divert attention from urgent issues in their country and in Europe, such as a surge in discrimination and racism.

In Sunday's debate, Mr Schulz said he would seek to end long-running but currently stalled talks on Turkey joining the EU over what he perceived to be Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian policies.

Mrs Merkel, who has previously expressed doubts about Turkey ever joining the EU, refused to commit firmly to the same move, which would have to be agreed among EU members. However, she sharply criticised Mr Erdogan's rule, saying: "Turkey is departing from all democratic practices at break-neck speed."

Turkey has blamed Germany for harbouring people with ­alleged links to last year's failed coup against Mr Erdogan.

Irish Independent

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