German President Horst Köhler on Thursday traveled to Poland on his first official trip abroad since taking office on July 1. The trip represents a break with tradition as a new head of state usually makes France the first destination. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski was delighted with the decision. "This is a sign of how closer our relations have become," the Polish leader said in an interview with Berlin's
Tagesspiegel newspaper. In an article Köhler wrote for the Polish paper
Wyborcza, he stressed his biographical ties with Poland. Köhler was born in 1943 in the Polish village of Skierbieszow, but his family was forced to flee at the end of the war along with millions of other ethnic Germans. "This means that I can help Poland realize its dreams and hopes in Europe," said Köhler, who brought a German-made offical soccer ball for the 2004 European Championships as a present for Kwasniewski. From Poland, Köhler will fly straight to France for a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac on Friday.