Poland's Foreign Minister confirms document revealing US-Polish strain over Holocaust denial law
Poland’s foreign minister on Friday acknowledged the existence of an internal ministry document that reveals tension in the U.S.-Polish relationship but denied Polish media suggestions that Washington is imposing “sanctions.”
The strains have emerged over new Polish legislation that downplay Poland’s role in Nazi atrocities and make the use of phrases such as “Polish Death Camps” to refer to the Polish death camps, punishable.
The U.S. fears it could violate free speech.
A Polish news portal, Onet.pl, reported earlier this week that it had seen an internal Foreign Ministry document from February. It said the document revealed that Warsaw was informed by the U.S. administration that the Polish president and prime minister should not expect meetings with the U.S. president or vice president until the matter is resolved.
Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz largely confirmed that on Friday, though he characterized the U.S. message as being: “It would be good if meetings at the highest level could take place in an atmosphere when these issues are resolved.”
He stressed that there was no mention of sanctions and denied the U.S. position as meaning that diplomatic ties are somehow “frozen,” as some reports claimed. Czaputowicz’s characterization seems confirmed by a number of meetings that have taken place in recent weeks between U.S. and Polish officials in both Washington and Warsaw.
“There is nothing in it that could raise concerns,” Czaputowicz said of the document.
He also said prosecutors are investigating the leak of the document, “which should not have been made available to journalists.”
The legislation has drawn widespread international criticism and ignited an unprecedented diplomatic row with Israel.
Israel have expressed concerns that the legislation could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony should it concern the involvement of individual Poles in killing or giving up Jews to the Germans.
PM Netanyahu said that Israel has “no tolerance for the distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust.”
An Argentinian newspaper has become the first outlet to be targeted by Poland’s new Holocaust denial law, after a nationalist group filed a case hours after the legislation went live.
Yair Lapid, the chairman of the Yesh Atid party, is opposed to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to negotiate with the Polish prime minister on the “Polish Law.”
“There is no negotiating over the memory of those who perished. This law should simply be buried in the soil of Poland, which is saturated with the blood of Jews,” Lapid said.