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Polish president warns in Berlin of rebirth of 1930s nationalism

Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski delivers a speech at the lower house of parliament Bundestag during a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the start of World War II, in Berlin, September 10, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BERLIN (Reuters) - Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski has compared Russia’s incursions into Ukraine with 1930s-style nationalism in a speech in Berlin commemorating the beginning of World War Two, in which he urged the West to stand up to Moscow.

“We are witnessing the rebirth of nationalist ideology which violates human rights and international law under the cover of humanitarian slogans about protecting minorities,” Komorowski told the Bundestag lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

“We recognize this all too well from the 1930s,” said the president, using a speech to mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the war following the Nazis’ invasion of Poland to criticize Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

In the audience were Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, the former East German dissident who said in Poland last week Russia had “de facto terminated” a partnership with Europe ushered in by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

“The times of the peace dividend following the end of the Cold War are over,” said Komorowski, an outspoken critic of the Russian annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support of separatists who have been fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking on the day European Union diplomats were due to decide when and how to implement new sanctions on Russia, the Polish president welcomed NATO’s decision at a summit in Wales to beef up protection for eastern European member states like Poland and the Baltics who feel threatened by Russia.

Komorowski said it was a good decision “to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank” but was skeptical about sticking to an agreement with Russia not to post NATO combat troops to eastern Europe.

“We mustn’t let our hands be bound by commitments to third parties who do not meet their own obligations,” he said.

Reporting by Bethan John; Editing by Stephen Brown and Alison Williams