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Germany

Press Review: Harsh Words for Polish President

German editorials were unsparing in their criticism of the Polish president after his state visit to Germany. Lech Kaczynski confirmed for many his reputation as a populist and nationalist.

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Polish President Kacyznski is known for not being very friendly towards Germany

Commenting on the protest that gay rights activists staged at Berlin's Humboldt University during the Polish president's visit, the conservative daily Franfkurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that "the eclat caused by gays and lesbians drastically demonstrated what Kaczynski only hinted at in his speech: that despite all the superficial westernization and leveling in greater Europe, the western EU citizens still live in a different world than the eastern EU citizens."

Die Volksstimme from Magdeburg wrote: "Polish President Lech Kaczynski believes that gays and lesbians are a threat to the West. They endanger the European civilization because they do not worry about children. You could die of laughter, if only such talk didn't reveal a bad attitude towards the minorities. Based on procreation, Kaczynski divides people into good and bad. Or maybe into useful and harmful? Tell me how you deal with minorities, and I will tell you what kind of democrat you are."

Proteste während Kaczynski-Rede

Protesters at Humboldt University accused Kaczynski of homophobia

In Berlin, Die Welt looked at German-Polish relations under the new Polish president: "After the German-Polish honeymoon in the '90s and the dissonance of the most recent past, Warsaw and Berlin have become more modest in what they expect of each other. The election of the not exactly German-friendly President Kaczynski has only strengthened their reserve. Even though no German politician would openly admit it, the suspicion of Kaczynski's populism is great… But those who observed Kaczynski in Berlin were amazed when they realized that the president had thawed and in the end became almost warmhearted with his conversation partners. The differences… were surely not set aside, but at least a minimal measure of trust has been regained. The German-Polish relations are better off in the wake of Kaczynski's visit."

A new phase?

The Munich daily Münchener Merkur was less impressed: "Merkel sees the beginning of a new phase for German-Polish relations. One wonders though: a phase leading where? Whether it's the Expellee Center, the Baltic Sea Pipeline or the EU constitution, no problem is closer to being solved after this state visit. Even Kaczynski's delay was a diplomatic slap in the face of Berlin: Merkel went to Poland only 10 days after her election, Kaczynski, on the other hand, gave himself a leeway of almost three months -- not without sneering that of all Germany he only knew the Frankfurt airport. That's enough. One can only wonder if that is -- from Warsaw's perspective -- the right way to deal with the largest financer in the EU."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung also harshly criticized the Polish leadership: "The German government is doing the most rational thing it can do at the moment for German-Polish relations: It's waiting and giving the Poles the time they need to examine personally what they previously knew only from hearsay: The national-conservative leadership around the Kaczynski twins personifies a kind of provincialism and -- quite literally -- xenophobia, which is unique in the European Union."

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