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Germany dismisses Poland's protest against carnival float

Berlin has dismissed Poland's protests regarding an "insulting" parade float during the carnival. The float showed Polish leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski with a booted foot on the head of a woman depicting Poland.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday that Berlin would not interfere with carnival organizers in Düsseldorf about the controversial creation. "We have freedom of expression in Germany, freedom of art," Seibert said, adding that this freedom would be maintained even if it became uncomfortable for those being represented.

The carnival float, created by organizers in Düsseldorf, depicted Poland as a woman being stepped on by a booted Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the conservative PiS party. The float was shown in front of Düsseldorf's city hall for a short period after the traditional carnival parade on Rose Monday was canceled due to storm warnings.

On Tuesday, Poland's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, also a PiS member, called the installation an

"insult to Poland and Polish politicians"

and said he would register a protest with Berlin.

Relations between Germany and Poland have suffered after the conservative PiS party took over the government. Last month, Berlin and Warsaw clashed because of Poland's restrictive media laws and a reduction in the powers of Poland's constitutional court. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo is also against a

distribution quota for refugees

in the European Union, which has further worsened relations.

However, ties may be salvaged after a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Szydlo, who is scheduled to visit Berlin on Friday. "This is the first chance to exchange opinions intensively and thoroughly and the German Chancellor is looking forward to it," Merkel's spokesman Seibert told journalists.

mg/jil (AFP, dpa)

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