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Germany

Kaczynski: Good Polish-German Relations Important for Europe

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said on Wednesday that good relations with Germany were "important for all of Europe" after he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his first visit to Berlin.

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There's a lot of room between Merkel and Kaczynski when it comes to the EU's future

Kaczynski's trip is seen as important to mending ties between the neighbors after he exploited anti-German sentiment dating back to World War II in his election campaign last year.

"Good relations between Poland and Germany are important for all of Europe," Kaczynski told reporters after their meeting, adding that he was "deeply convinced" that Berlin and Warsaw needed close ties.

Merkel told reporters the two leaders would discuss international relations and the future of the European Union during a working lunch.

Disagreements over EU constitution

Both leaders openly disagree on the EU constitution, which the German chancellor wants to help revive after it was rejected by French and Dutch voters and put on ice by the bloc.

Kaczynski, in an interview with Wednesday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reiterated his view that the treaty needed to be re-drafted.

"We need a new constitution for Europe," he told the newspaper, adding that the current draft "is no longer relevant."

The Handelsblatt newspaper commented that fostering better ties between Poland and Germany was essential to resolving the standoff on the constitution as Poland is the heavyweight among the newer EU members while Germany is seen as Brussels' bridge to the newcomers which swelled the bloc to 25 members.

Discussing energy, Baltic Sea pipeline

Gaspipeline in Russland

The Baltic Sea pipeline won't cross Poland

Merkel and Kaczynski were widely expected to talk about EU energy policy, which has become another sore point in relations between the two neighbors.

Poland has been urging an accord within the EU to secure the bloc's energy supply, but Germany is skeptical about the proposal.

Warsaw was outraged by an agreement signed between Germany and Russia last September to build a gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and depriving it of lucrative transit fees.

Anti-German feelings

Ties between Poland and its main trade partner were further strained when Kaczynski sought to exploit lingering anti-German sentiment during his campaign for the presidency.

The tactic was seen by some observers as having contributed to his victory.

Flucht in den Westen

Germans were expelled from Poland after World War II

The Polish president has also opposed plans to build a controversial center of remembrance in Berlin for Germans who were expelled from Polish territory after the war in reprisal for the Nazi invasion of Poland.

Kaczynski was due to meet with President Horst Köhler and the speaker of the lower house of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert, later on Wednesday.

He will also deliver a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin and meet Poles living in Germany during his two-day visit.

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