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Germany

Germany, Poland Appoint Coordinators for Closer Ties

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder appealed on Thursday for closer links between Germany and its eastern neighbor Poland, as both countries named new coordinators to improve bilateral ties.

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Schröder and Belka want Germans and Poles to get closer

Following a regular inter-government session with Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka in the Polish city of Krakow, Schröder said he was particularly interested in fostering closer contact between German and Polish citizens.

"So far we have coordination only with France. A similar process with Poland shows the equal value we attach to relations with both East and West," he said.

BildgalerieBundespräsidenten Gesine Schwan

Germany's new coordinator for German-Polish relations, Gesine Schwan

Schröder announced the appointment of his former candidate for the German presidency, Gesine Schwan (photo), as the new coordinator for relations with Poland. Schwan is also the head of European University Viadrina at Frankfurt on Oder.

Belka told reporters that the Polish coordinator for German relations would be Irena Lipowicz, formerly Poland's ambassador to Austria.

Reparation feud settled

The two government leaders also said they have laid to rest a recent row over World War II compensation claims. They announced the results of consultations by a commission of lawyers from both countries who had concluded that German post-war claims on Poland and Polish demands for reparations from Germany were "without foundation."

"The most important factor in the (commission's) expert opinion is that there is no legal basis for claims by one side or the other," Schroeder said.

Belka said the claims would not be eligible for consideration by courts either in Germany, Poland or the United States.

The threats of legal action that were flying back and forth between laywers representing victims' groups had chilled otherwise warm relations between Poland and Germany.

After talks last month in Berlin, Schroöder and Belka agreed to set up a joint team of lawyers to challenge any compensation claim from Germans seeking to reclaim property lost after 1945.

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