November 18, 2009 / 5:26 PM / 8 years ago

Merkel puts off decision that would anger Poland

2 Min Read

By Dave Graham

BERLIN, Nov 18 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel put off a decision on Wednesday to back a party member for a seat on the board of a World War Two museum, thereby avoiding making an endorsement that would have angered Poland.

Merkel told a news conference that the issue of endorsing Erika Steinbach, 66, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats, for a seat on the board of a museum which chronicles German suffering at the war's end had not come up at cabinet talks.

"The subject did not play a role in Meseberg, because a decision can only be made once the League of Expellees has made a nomination," Merkel told a news conference in Meseberg, north of Berlin, when asked about Steinbach after the talks.

"We need to wait for that decision."

The League of Expellees, the body behind the museum which Steinbach heads, has said it wants her to take the seat on its board.

Responding to Merkel's announcement, a spokeswoman for the League said they would continue to wait for Berlin to decide.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has threatened to veto Steinbach's appointment to avoid angering Poland.

Steinbach, born in German-occupied Poland where her father served in the Luftwaffe, argues Germany has dishonoured the memory of the expellees too long, and once tried to make Polish membership of the European Union conditional on paying compensation for them.

Hans Vorlaender, a political scientist at the University of Dresden, said Merkel had two choices: to convince Steinbach to give up the seat or to ensure it remains empty.

(For a story on Steinbach please click on [ID:nLH606172])

(Writing by Dave Graham; editing by Michael Roddy)



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