Chancellor Merkel in Poland: conciliatory tones in Warsaw

As of: 09/11/2021 8:19 p.m.

During Merkel’s last visit to Poland as Chancellor, some sensitive issues were on the agenda. But Merkel not only campaigned for dialogue in the conflict over the Polish judicial system. There was even agreement on the subject of Belarus.

During her visit to Warsaw, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the dispute between the EU Commission and Poland over the local justice system to be resolved through talks. “Politics is more than just going to court,” said Merkel after a meeting with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Brussels and Warsaw have long been arguing over reforms to the Polish judicial system. Critics accuse the national conservative PiS government of undermining the independence of the judiciary.

“Possibility of dialogue”

The Polish Constitutional Court is currently examining whether Polish law takes precedence over EU law. The EU Commission had applied for financial sanctions against Poland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The background to this is the continued activity of the Polish Disciplinary Chamber to punish judges. The ECJ had ordered the cessation of the activity of this chamber in an interim order. Merkel said that it must of course always be a possibility for the rule of law to resolve contentious matters through legal proceedings. And yet there are opportunities to move forward through dialogue.

Criticism of Belarus

Both Merkel and Morawiecki condemned the way the Belarusian leadership dealt with refugees from crisis regions. Defenseless people from other countries are used as subjects of “hybrid attacks”, said the Chancellor. She appealed to Belarus to provide humanitarian aid to the refugees stuck on the Polish-Belarusian border. The government in Warsaw accuses Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of bringing refugees to the EU’s external border in an organized manner.

Poland is seeing a surge of Middle Eastern migrants across its 418-kilometer border with Belarus. The country has therefore declared a state of emergency in the border region and started building a fence. Morawiecki said he had described the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border to the Chancellor. “We have the support of both the EU Commission and the German government to protect Europe from illegal migration, from movements that do not depend on us.”

Merkel wants a commitment for Ukraine gas transit as soon as possible

On the subject of the controversial Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline, the Chancellor emphasized that Germany had agreed with the USA to work to ensure that Russia undertakes as early as possible to continue gas deliveries through Ukraine after 2024. This obligation must come from her point of view, so that energy supplies “cannot be used for hybrid warfare,” said Merkel.

Poland’s national-conservative PiS government has long been against Nord Stream 2. It fears that Russia could thereby increase Europe’s dependence on its gas supplies and put the previous transit countries under pressure. Morawiecki said the agreements between the US, Germany and Ukraine are strategically very important. “The guarantees for gas transit through Ukraine reduce the possibility of political or price blackmail by Russia,” said Poland’s head of government.

Conciliatory: Merkel’s probably last visit to Poland as Chancellor

Jan Pallokat, ARD Warsaw, 11.9.2021 6:40 p.m.

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