Kohl takes charm offensive to Poland

`Both sides want to emphasise the sense of fraternity, not the differences'

STEVE CRAWSHAW

Bonn

Gradually, they have become the best of friends - up to a point, at least. The German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, today begins a two-day visit to Poland, which is intended to emphasise that Germany is - as the newspaper headlines put it - "Advocatus Poloniae". High on the agenda will be Polish aspirations to become fully fledged members of the Western political, economic and security alliance.

In advance of the visit, there were sudden mini-tensions. In an interview for Polish television, Mr Kohl linked the questions of the Polish wish to join Nato with their equally strong desire to join the European Union. In effect, he appeared to suggest that Nato membership was not possible until Poland was ripe for membership of the EU.

Poland reacted indignantly. Andrzej Olechowski, deputy foreign minister, said he was "very worried" by Mr Kohl's comments. Poland acknowledges that EU membership is a long way off. But it believes that Poland would be ready for Nato membership in just a few years, if only the West is willing.

There have been tensions, too, over an incident where German police cracked down on 250 young Poles illegally seeking work. As one German report noted: "The action touched on a very sore point, for Poles: Germans in uniform, ordering people around, interrogating and selecting. It wakes bad memories." The German ambassador was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry for an official protest.

None the less, it seems likely that the visit itself - during which Mr Kohl will address the Polish parliament - will pass off without drama. Jozef Oleksy, the Prime Minister, suggested that Mr Kohl's visit should carry the slogan "Together in Europe"; both sides are keen to emphasise the sense of fraternity, not the differences.

In November 1989, Mr Kohl broke off an official visit to Warsaw to rush back to Berlin for the fall of the Wall. It was not until 1990 that Bonn officially recognised Poland's borders, including part of what used to be eastern Germany. Five years on, however, both countries are keen to look ahead.

The visit is the latest in a series of trips by Mr Kohl and by the President, Roman Herzog, to countries whose relationship with Germany is historically burdened. Last month Mr Kohl made an enormously successful visit to Israel. During his first visit, in 1984, Israelis had been wary at best. This time a university institute was even named after Mr Kohl. Even Der Spiegel magazine, which rarely has a good word for the German chancellor (he is equally rude in return), said the visit had gone well. "He is charming our pants off," it quoted one Israeli as saying.

In Poland, there is an added complication to the search for good relations - reflected in the sensitive reaction to Mr Kohl's comments on Nato and the EU. Poland and Russia are the two countries which suffered most from the Nazis, which is one reason why Germany is now keen to have good relations with both. It wants to be seen as a reliable and generous friend.

That both countries suffered enormously from German aggression is more or less where the similarities end. Poland and Russia are each jealous of the other's relationship with Bonn: Moscow fears that Germany (and therefore Europe) wants to exclude Russia from the cosy Western family, of which Poland is a would-be new member. Poland fears that Germany (and therefore Europe) is ready to do a deal over Poland's head, with what Poles still regard as the powerful and untrustworthy Russian bear.

Poland wants to build a fire-door on the Polish-Russian border. Russia and the West, including Mr Kohl, does not.

Arts and Entertainment
TVSabotage, a major meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teacher required with Early Years...

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?