Polish and German experts were on Thursday set to discuss the sensitive topic of war reparations at a conference in Warsaw, according to a report.
The conference was scheduled to be held after Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and Germany’s Sigmar Gabriel in January agreed that the potentially divisive issue between the two countries should be tackled by experts on both sides, the Rzeczpospolita daily has reported.
Justyna Schulz, head of Poland’s Institute for Western Affairs, which organised the conference, told the paper: “When the debate on reparations started in Poland, in Germany this topic was completely rejected at first. But now our neighbours have gotten used to it and come to understand that it's worth discussing."
Rzeczpospolita also quoted Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, a Eurodeputy for Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, as saying that the Warsaw conference would “open the door to a serious debate with Germany on reparations.”
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz was this week quoted as telling German news weekly Der Spiegel that “73 years after World War II the Polish people are still talking about their suffering and losses; it's a part of our identity.”
Czaputowicz told Der Spiegel in an interview--which appeared on the weekly's website on Tuesday--that Poland’s losses during World War II were “much greater than those suffered by other countries.” He also said that there is a discrepancy between “the kind of reparations that Germany granted Western countries such as France or Belgium and how we have been compensated for our losses," according to Poland's PAP news agency.
Earlier this year, the head of a Polish team assessing potential reparations said that Germany could owe Poland USD 850 billion for damage it inflicted in World War II.
"We are talking about very large, but justified amounts of compensation for war crimes, for destroyed cities, villages, the lost demographic potential of our country,” Arkadiusz Mularczyk, an MP with Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party, said at the time, as quoted by the PAP news agency.
Mularczyk heads a parliamentary team set up in September to assess the amount of potential compensation due from Germany, which invaded Poland in 1939, sparking World War II.
Last year, an analysis by Polish parliamentary experts said the government in Warsaw is entitled to demand that Germany pay reparations for the massive war-time damage it inflicted on Poland.
German officials have said that the issue was definitively settled with Poland in 1953.
In a resolution adopted that year, the Polish communist government of the time recognised that Germany had fulfilled its obligations with regard to Poland and decided against seeking compensation.
But Poland's ruling conservatives have said that decisions made by the country's communist-era authorities are not still valid because they were made under pressure from the Soviet Union.
Jarosław Kaczyński, head of the Law and Justice party, which came to power in late 2015, said at a convention in July last year that Poland never received compensation for the massive damage it suffered in World War II, losses which "we have really still not made up for".
Officials in Warsaw have noted that nearly six million Poles were killed during the war from 1939 to 1945, when their country was invaded by Nazi Germany.
Source: rp.pl, PAP