WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s interior minister accused European Parliament president Martin Schulz on Tuesday of “German arrogance” and recalled Nazi atrocities in Warsaw in reaction to Schulz’s criticism of Warsaw’s reluctance to accept migrants under EU quotas.
Schulz said on German television on Sunday that any refusal to accept people fleeing war in the Middle East and North Africa would show a lack of European “solidarity”.
Mariusz Blaszczak, sworn in this week together with Poland’s new staunchly conservative government, said Germans should not criticize Poland after killing tens of thousands of Poles during World War Two.
“(President) Schulz’s words are an example of German arrogance,” Blaszczak told the TVN24 private news channel.
“We’re talking in Warsaw, which was destroyed by Germans. In (Warsaw’s) Wola (district) 50,000 men, women and children were murdered by officers of the German state,” he said.
While Schulz, a German politician, technically represents the European legislature and not the government in Berlin, Blaszczak’s comments likely signal Warsaw will take an antagonistic approach to Germany.
They echo comments by former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, now leader of the Law and Justice party which swept into power after an October election, during the party’s last stint in power, marked by strained relations with Berlin.
Deeply distrustful of Germany, Kaczynski had invoked the number of Poles killed by the Nazis in World War Two to justify demands for greater voting power within the EU in 2007.
Schulz told public TV station ARD the European Union was willing to help Poland with money to prop up poor regions, with sanctions against Russia - which Warsaw had lobbied for in relation to the crisis in Ukraine - and with pressure on Moscow if Warsaw felt threatened by its communist-era overlord.
“But then you can’t come and say that the refugee problem is a German problem and we have nothing to do with it. Solidarity is a key question and (not subject to) cherry picking,” he said.
Poland’s Europe minister said on Saturday that Warsaw would demand security guarantees before accepting its allocation of refugees under a European Union quota system, in reaction to deadly attacks in Paris.
Additional reporting by Tina Bellon in Berlin, editing by Justyna Pawlak and Ralph Boulton