Poland’s governing party leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, and Germany’s CDU opposition leader, Friedrich Merz, met in Warsaw on Thursday in an attempt to rebuild Polish-German relations.
In a meeting that lasted for approximately two hours, the conservative party leaders discussed both countries’ relationship with the European Union, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the assistance both countries are providing to Kyiv. The subject of war reparations for Poland was also discussed.
Kaczyński raised the issue of reparations for the damage Nazi Germany inflicted on Poland during World War II, a PiS spokesman, Radosław Fogiel, told reporters. He added that “the Polish side stressed the need to settle this issue.”
One of the objectives of the visit by Merz was, according to the weekly Spiegel, to calm the criticism of Germany with regard to it dragging its feet on the exchange of tanks agreement (Ringtausch), whereby German tanks will replace the units sent by Poland to Ukraine. The lack of progress on the German delivery has been a source of tension between the two countries.
The CDU leader on Monday criticized German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the fact that the issue of this exchange had reached a “dead end.” After laying a wreath at the 1944 Warsaw Uprising monument in Warsaw, Merz expressed the hope that the planned exchange of arms would take place as quickly as possible.
“The matter of compensation must be settled and the arms delivered in line with the expectations of the Polish government,” he said, appealing to his country’s government to keep the promise it had given to the Polish government. “This needs fixing. It would not be good for this to drag out and for the frustration on the Polish side, which is already visible, to grow,” he added.
Merz was however careful not to be seen as acting as an intermediary between Berlin and Warsaw on the tank issue. He wanted to concentrate on the wider issues surrounding Polish-German relations and the future of the EU. He also backed the restoration of the Weimar Triangle meetings between Poland, Germany, and France.
While in Warsaw, Friedrich Merz also met with the liberal mayor of the city, Rafał Trzaskowski.