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Germany

Germany and Poland Call for European Dialogue on Expulsions Center

German President Johannes Rau has called for a calmer debate on how to commemorate the mass expulsions of Europeans from their homelands. Rau and his Polish counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, issued a joint statement in Gdansk, Poland, on Wednesday, in which they called for a spirit of reconciliation and friendship. Rau criticized the ongoing discussion about building a documentation in Berlin center. He admonished those who he said tried to "burden German-Polish relations with thoughtless statements, a lack of understanding of the historical memory of our peoples and one-sided actions." Rau, one of Germany's leading moral authorities, called for a European dialogue on 20th century expulsions. The Association of German Expellees has been heavily criticized in Poland and the Czech Republic over its stated plans to build such a facility in Berlin, which many fear could focus unduly on German expellees after World War II and portray the aggressor as the victim. Last month German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller agreed that the center should not be built in Berlin and that there should be a broad European discussion of the issue.