WARSAW, Sept. 11 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Poland on Saturday, as part of a farewell tour of Europe for the continent’s longest-serving ruler, risks being overshadowed by tensions around of a pipeline and questions about its legacy in Central Europe.
Growing up in East Germany near the Polish border, Merkel, 67, was seen by some observers as a chancellor who could identify with post-communist states in Central Europe.
However, during his farewell visit to the capital of Europe’s largest emerging economy, his determination to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Russia deteriorated relations.
The pipeline pits Germany, the EU’s largest economy, against central and eastern European countries, including some EU members, who say it will increase the bloc’s dependence on gas Russian.
Russia, the cornerstone of the Soviet Union that once dominated central and eastern Europe, is still viewed with suspicion in much of the region.
“In general, she was seen as someone who understood Central and Eastern Europe,” said Michal Baranowski, Warsaw bureau chief of the German Marshall Fund, adding that Polish-German relations were at “a delicate point”. .
“I think she leaves as Mrs. Nord Stream 2, from the Polish point of view.”
Relations were strained under the ruling nationalists in Poland, the PiS.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told Polish public radio on Friday that he expected Nord Stream 2 to feature in Merkel’s talks with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, alongside the plan to Polish national COVID-19 relaunch, which was not approved by Brussels due to concerns over the Warsaw crisis. commitment to the rule of law. Read more
Poland and Hungary are embroiled in a long-standing feud with Brussels over issues such as judicial independence, press freedoms and LGBT rights, a conflict which has recently escalated with Brussels which has started a dispute. legal action against Warsaw and Budapest.
“She (Merkel) fears that the differences on the judicial question will increase between Eastern Europe and the rest,” said a German government source.
Analysts say that under Merkel’s reign, Germany sought consensus and dialogue with the states of central and eastern Europe, putting Brussels at the forefront and avoiding direct conflict.
However, some diplomats say Merkel could have done more against democratic retreat.
“Merkel doesn’t like revolution. She doesn’t like rocking the boat and she probably thought she could contain it, and that clearly didn’t work,” said Sophie in’t Veld, Dutch liberal member of the European Union. Parliament.
But with anti-German sentiment still strong among many PiS voters, some analysts say Merkel may also have been reluctant to stir up old animosities in a country that suffered greatly during World War II.
PiS politicians have repeatedly called on Germany for war reparations.
With Armin Laschet, the Conservative candidate to succeed Merkel struggling in the polls, policymakers across Europe are starting to think about what a Social Democrat-led government of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz would mean.
“It is very important that the next German government supports a more decisive response from the EU to stop a further setback in Poland, Hungary and other countries,” said Daniela Schwarzer, Executive Director for Europe and the United States. ‘Eurasia at the Open Society Foundation.
Reporting by Alan Charlish, Justyna Pawlak, Anna Koper and Alicja Ptak in Warsaw, Andreas Rinke in Berlin, John Chalmers in Brussels, John Irish in Paris Editing by Mark Potter
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.