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Poland renews demand for German war reparations

As countries seek to mend ties, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski renews a push for German war reparations

As countries seek to mend ties, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski renews a push for German war reparations

Poland's top diplomat on Tuesday urged Germany to provide "financial compensation" for losses his country suffered at the hands of Nazi troops during World War II.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski made the call during his first visit to Berlin since a center-left, pro-European government led by Donald Tusk took office in Poland in mid-December after defeating the national conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) in elections.

"A strong Europe, whose center will continue to move eastwards in the coming years, needs more than ever a lively German-Polish friendship and deep trust between Warsaw and Berlin," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said after meeting Sikorski.

The Polish minister also said: "Relations based on a partnership between democratic Germany and Poland should be restored."

Sikorski calls for financial compensation

However, Sikorski's call for reparations echoes a similar push by the PiS government, which estimated that Germany should pay €1.3 trillion ($1.4 trillion) as "compensation for the deaths of more than 5.2 million Polish citizens."

Speaking on Welt TV after talks with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, Sikorski said "that what Germany did to Poland during World War II was terrible and cruel."

He said it would be helpful if Germany "were to find a creative solution for expressing this suffering, to express regret and do something good for the people who survived this period."

"And this ethical reflection on the past should then result in financial compensation," he said, without providing any figures.

Germany rejects reparation claims

The issue of WWII compensation had already strained relations between Berlin and the previous Polish government, led by PiS, which had insisted that Germany had a "moral duty" in the matter.

Germany has often rejected such claims, pointing to a 1953 decision by Poland to renounce claims against East Germany.

The German government considers the reparations issue to be closed and refers to the Two Plus Four Treaty on the foreign policy consequences of German unification in 1990, in which Poland was not involved.

dh/jsi (AFP, dpa)