Sunday, July 08, 2007

Still contributing to the gaiety of nations

Refusing to acknowledge the well-known truth that Germans have no sense of humour, Der Spiegel, has been indulging in Pole-baiting. Well, not seriously but for fun. They now have a section called Kaczynski Watch.

The latest article in the section was published two days ago and referred to an interview Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw K gave to Die Welt. In it he complained about the world’s unfairness. Everyone else talks about the war, why shouldn’t the Poles.
"I am very surprised by the view of those who say that one is not allowed to return to the questions of history," he told the newspaper. "The Germans return to this question. The expellee federations do, as does (head of the Federation of German Expellees), who is the daughter of a soldier of the occupation. The Jews also return to these questions, to the question of the Holocaust. Does that mean others are allowed to do it but not Poland?"

He also talked about "a revision of memory" in Germany. "Germany was not a victim of this war. Germany was the aggressor," he said. "If someone creates the impression that the suffering of Germany is comparable with that of Poland's, then that is very disturbing."
This is a highly entertaining mish-mash that gets us nowhere. More to the point, it gets Poland nowhere. It is undoubtedly true that Germany was the aggressor but that does not make the suffering of its population at the end of it any the less. One might say that they deserved it but that is a separate argument. They might even have deserved to be expelled from lands that were given to Poland but that is an issue of post-war behaviour.

Furthermore, as we have pointed out, Kaczynski’s attempt to make Poland sound larger than it is because of the numbers lost in the war remains a useless argument. Germany lost even more, as did a few other countries. Calculating on what might or might not have happened demographically if certain events had not taken place is not a very satisfactory basis for political demands.

As we have also pointed out at the time, calculating who was responsible for which deaths in Eastern Europe is tricky business, best not done in the circumstances of political negotiations.

There is another aspect to the Kaczynski show (apart from the sheer entertainment value) and one which Der Spiegel tries to work out. Exactly what was it that Lech K achieved in Brussels on that fateful week-end?
Kaczynski repeated Friday his claim that a verbal agreement had been reached, telling Die Welt that Merkel had assured him that decisions could be delayed by up to two years. "Verbal agreements are valid in civil law," he said. "There was a political agreement, a gentlemen's agreement, and as such it must be respected."

None of the other 26 EU members has backed Poland in its demands for a two-year blocking period, however. Other member states say they understood the deal to mean that Poland could only block decisions for several months. Kaczynski's new claim threatens to re-ignite the row over the treaty, which was agreed on after long and painful negotiations.
To be honest, even the right to block EU legislation for two years is not commensurate with the amount of effort that had been expended before the Council. If Kaczynski did not even make sure that there were witnesses to the verbal promise then all one can say that, perhaps, both brothers should stop worrying about what happened sixty-odd years ago and start paying attention to what is going on now.

Meanwhile, Roman Giertych, head of the ultra-Roman Catholic League of Polish Families and education minister, last heard of trying to ban large chunks of world literature from the curriculum, has announced that he and his party will oppose the “reformed treaty” for two reasons.

Firstly because there is no mention about God and Christianity, without which Europe “would be nothing”. The second reason indicates he knows as little about EU membership as do our own politicians:
Giertych also warned that the treaty would place EU law above Polish law, which he said would threaten Poles who live in western Polish lands that belonged to Germany before World War II.
It would actually affect Poles wherever they happened to live but, in any case, he is using the wrong tense. EU law is above Polish law and has been ever since Poland became member of this benighted institution.

It seems that Giertych like the Kaczynskis is still fighting those old battles instead of paying some attention to what is going on in Poland now. As we are talking about Poles who live in various places, what about those economically active Poles who are leaving the country to get jobs elsewhere? How do they affect the demography and economy of the country?

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