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Germany's foreign minister makes inaugural visit to Poland

December 10, 2021

Annalena Baerbock, Germany's new foreign minister, discussed the Poland-Belarus border and issues over rule of law during her inaugural visit to Warsaw.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, and her Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau bump fists after holding a joint press conference in Warsaw
Warsaw was the third stop on Baerbock's first trip abroad as foreign ministerImage: Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock continued her inaugural trip on Friday with a visit to Warsaw.

The Green Party politician, who has only held the position for a matter of days, began her trip with a visit to Paris and Brussels on Thursday.

She met with her counterpart from Germany's eastern neighbor, Zbigniew Rau, to discuss the solidarity between the two countries over the situation at the Poland-Belarus border.

Baerbock also brought up the thorny issue of judicial independence and the primacy of EU law, something that Poland's right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has been contesting.

Border issues

Baerbock said that Berlin stood in "full responsibility and solidarity by the side of Poland and the Baltic states" amid provocations from Belarus.

The EU has accused President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk of sending asylum-seekers and refugees across the border into neighboring EU member states to protest sanctions against his government.

Baerbock also voiced concern for those who have been trapped at the border, calling for humanitarian aid to be given, especially as temperatures there plummet.

"This is our common European border, where humanity and order apply," she said.

EU migrants at the Polish border

Rule of law in Poland

Baerbock also discussed the issue of Warsaw's ongoing dispute with Brussels over the rule of law, despite it being "uncomfortable."

"But that's what marks strong friendships, facing uncomfortable questions," she said.

The European Court of Justice is currently fining Poland €1 million ($1.13 million) per day after it found a series of judicial reforms passed by the PiS government contravened EU rules.

Poland has refused to pay and exacerbated the crisis with a ruling from its own Constitutional Tribunal saying that Polish law can take primacy over EU law, raising the question of Poland's departure from the block.

Europe's next domino: Will Polexit follow Brexit?

The 40-year-old minister said she would not offer "public advice" to Warsaw and vowed not to take decisions "over the heads of our neighbors or at the expense of others."

"But I hope for all our sake, for German-Polish friendship, for our shared Europe, that we find solutions that strengthen Europe. And Poland is an indispensable part of that," she added.

ab/msh (AP, dpa)