Thomas Bagger, Germany’s ambassador to Poland since last year, has the task of persuading Poland to get closer to Berlin and convince them of Germany’s major role in supporting Ukraine.
However, his efforts have so far been weak. He delivers platitudes about democracy, freedom, friendship and NATO. Still, when confronted with a text in which Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak is critical of Germany’s energy collaboration with Russia, he loses his diplomatic cool and blames Poland for supporting Moscow.
His excellency asks in a Twitter post whether our defense minister knows how many billions of Polish zloty Poland has been transferring to Moscow to purchase Russian energy.
This is both arrogant and amateurish.
Poland has been reducing its dependence on Russian energy ever since the present conservative government came into office. In the same period, Berlin was moving in the opposite direction. It was also the previous pro-German liberal government that had committed Poland to long-term contracts with Gazprom.
So, here we go: Poland, Ukraine’s major ally, is now being accused of arming Russia. The words “German ambassador” are now synonymous with the phrase: “You’ve got cheek.”
However, there is a method to this madness.
It is an attempt to put Poland in ‘”its place” as Berlin’s whipping boy, and Bagger has form when it comes to criticizing Polish officials. In the summer of last year, he mocked the head of Poland’s central Bank (NBP), Adam Glapiński, after Glapiński said the leader of the liberal opposition, Donald Tusk, must have been offered a top EU job for his efforts to have Poland adopt the euro currency. Bagger argued that Glapiński was confusing the past with the present and that the threat to Poland was from the East and not the West.
This kind of arrogant behavior from German diplomats brings to mind a past we would all rather forget. The trouble is that it seems to be the norm in terms of how Germany regards Poland and its government. The Germans seem to be deaf to the fact that such paternalistic behavior towards Central Europe in general is counterproductive, and that such arrogance confirms fears that German intentions are less than clear.
Bagger can issue such statements to his heart’s content if Tusk comes to power, but the way Berlin is behaving, that is increasingly unlikely.