Poland’s foreign minister has said his country needs to explain its intentions rather than apologise after the Polish premier triggered anger in Israel by referring to “Jewish perpetrators” during World War II.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told a private television station in Warsaw that Israel wants guarantees that no one will be brought to account for presenting historical testimonies until Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal gives its verdict on new anti-defamation rules.
Polish President Andrzej Duda recently signed into force a contested law which could impose a jail term on anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes. That move triggered tensions between Poland and Israel.
Duda has sent the law to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal for clarification.
Referring to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s remark about “Jewish perpetrators”, Czaputowicz said that English is not Morawiecki’s mother tongue and his intention was not to equate war-time crimes committed by Poles with those committed by Jews.
Asked if Morawiecki should apologise for his words, Czaputowicz said: “There is not much to apologise for. The matter simply has to be explained.”
The remarks by Morawiecki that sparked anger came at a Munich security conference on Saturday, when he referred to the new Polish anti-defamation law.
Morawiecki said: “It’s not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian [and] not only German perpetrators.”
Swastikas daubed on Polish embassy
In his television interview, Czaputowicz also referred to Sunday’s incident in Tel Aviv in which unidentified people sprayed swastikas and vulgar, anti-Polish slogans at the entrance to the Polish embassy.
He said that Warsaw has asked to the Israeli authorities to investigate and to ensure protection for the Polish diplomatic mission.
Czaputowicz added that “certain anti-Polish sentiments” are evident in Israel. What is needed in this situation is “education, talks in a quiet atmosphere and work by historians,” Czaputowicz added.