Logo Polskiego Radia

Warsaw 'open to dialogue' amid tension over new law: Polish official

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 07.02.2018 11:19
US State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s criticism of Poland’s new anti-defamation law “shows the scale of the challenge” that Poland faces, Polish presidential aide Krzysztof Szczerski has said.
Krzysztof Szczerski, chief foreign policy adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda. Photo: Flickr.com/Kancelaria PrezydentaKrzysztof Szczerski, chief foreign policy adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda. Photo: Flickr.com/Kancelaria Prezydenta

According to Szczerski, the challenge lies in conducting dialogue to explain the new law, which has been criticised by Israel as well as the US.

“We are ready for and open to dialogue with Israel and Washington,” Szczerski said.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Dziedziczak said tensions caused by the new law result from misunderstanding and that "the government is doing all it can to clear up any doubts".

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday signed a contested law which could impose a jail term for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II.

In Poland, the new rules are seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which many say implies the country's involvement in the Holocaust.

Poland has long fought the use of such phrases, which have often appeared in foreign media in relation to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Polish territory during World War II.

Poland’s ruling conservatives have said such phrases distort history.

But Tillerson said the US was disappointed by the move.

The US state department earlier raised concerns about the repercussions the law “could have on Poland’s strategic interests and relationships” – including with its ally the United States and Israel.

The department said at the time: “We encourage Poland to reevaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech and on our ability to be effective partners.”

The new Polish law says academic research and artistic expression are exempt from penalties.


Commentators have said that Israel is concerned that the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles' role in the Holocaust.

Israeli ambassador to Poland Anna Azari has said that in Israel the law "is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony.”

The law has also been protested in Ukraine because it could see penalties for anyone who denies crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists until 1950.

Public broadcaster Polish Radio has launched a new website, GermanDeathCamps.info, aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust. (vb/pk)

Copyright © Polskie Radio S.A About Us Contact Us