Poland Agrees to EU Declaration and to Talks on Constitution | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.03.2007
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Poland Agrees to EU Declaration and to Talks on Constitution

Polish President Kaczynski told German Chancellor Merkel on Saturday his country would not block efforts to revive the European Union's constitution and would sign an EU declaration marking the bloc's 50th birthday.

Out on a stroll, Merkel, center, and President Kaczynski, left, along with spouses

Out on a stroll, Merkel, center, and President Kaczynski, left, along with spouses

Angela Merkel used her two-day trip to Poland to call for fresh efforts to agree a constitution for the 27-nation European Union and to get Poland to come on board regarding a document to mark the EU's 50th anniversary on March 25.

Today, it appears that her efforts have brought some success.

The Polish government had recently signalled its negative attitude
towards a strengthening of European institutions.

But President Lech Kaczynski told Merkel that Warsaw would sign a declaration at an EU summit next week to mark the half-century anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which founded the then European Community.

"Poland has certain reservations about the wording of the declaration of Berlin but in refusing to sign it we would have been the only country not to do so," Kaczynski told public television following a meeting with the chancellor in Jurata in northern Poland.

Polish leaders have wanted references to Christianity to be included in the statement set to be issued to mark the EU anniversary.

Merkel left the meeting at the Polish president's residence on the Hel peninsula at about noon after two days of meetings aimed at improving strained relations between the two neighbors.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, Polen Präsident Lech Kaczynski

The diplomacy paid off, it seems, despite some finger pointing

On Friday after her arrival, Merkel had warned Poland not to block the European constitution.

"The time for reflection is past. It's time for decisions," she said. "Let me say this uncategorically -- failure to do this would be a historic missed opportunity."

Merkel, whose country holds the EU presidency, wants the bloc to have a new constitution before 2009.

She has vowed to forge consensus on a new treaty over the coming months and present a "road map" for ratification at a Brussels summit in June to streamline decision-making in the enlarged bloc.

Christianity question

Poland, a devoutly Catholic country, has dug in its heels for a reference to Christianity in the constitution. However Kaczynski said Poland was willing to resume talks on the basis of the existing text.

The constitution project has been ratified by 18 member states but remains in limbo after it was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

Led by Poland's euro-sceptic identical twins, Kaczynski and his brother Jaroslaw, the prime minister, Warsaw last month urged the EU to ditch attempts to revive the constitution.

Relations between Germany and Poland have been tested recently. One touchy issue involves Germans who were expelled from Polish territory as World War II drew to a close.

They were among some 14 million German civilians who were displaced, deported or expelled from their homes in eastern Europe from 1944 onwards as the Soviet Red Army advanced and Germany's Third Reich crumbled.

Merkel has in the past spoken out in favor of a proposed center for Germany's war displaced -- a project that the Kaczynski twins bitterly oppose, saying it is an attempt to portray Germans as war victims and rewrite history.

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