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Newspaper apologises after foreign minister property slur

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 01.03.2012 15:54
A leading Polish newspaper has apologised to Poland's foreign minister after it claimed that he had clashed with one of his predecessors over the sale of former embassies and consulates.

Sikorski in Brussels: photo PAP/Jacek Turczyk

The right of centre Rzeczpospolita daily has, in a correction article, admitted that there was “no conflict” between Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor who served as Foreign Minister in 1995.

“We apologise to the Minister of Foreign Affairs,” the paper stressed, claiming that it had published the initial article “without fully checking the state of affairs.

“In light of the currently known facts, there was no dispute, nor even a conversation between the two men concerning the subject touched upon in the article.”

Owing to the apology, Minister Sikorski has confirmed that he will not sue the paper.

However, he will go ahead with suing the right-wing Gazeta Polska Codziennie, daily, which also ran the story, unless a similar apology emerges.

Poland's Foreign Ministry hopes to raise in the region of 38 million euros (158million zloty) through the sale of over a dozen properties abroad.

The ministry is currently engaged in a programme of downsizing consulates and embassies, claiming that in the modern world, “less space and less employees are needed.”

Meanwhile, Sikorski has agreed to hold settlement talks with the Puls Biznesu daily, after he accused the newspaper of allowing anti-Semitic comments to appear on its web portal.

The paper now affirms that every comment is checked before it becomes active. The case has been suspended, indefinitely.

Two similar cases brought by Sikorski continue against the Fakt tabloid and the Wprost weekly.
Some of the comments in the publications have been personal, with one anonymous poster on Puls Biznesu calling Sikorski the husband of a Jew and hence “an enemy of Poland...controlled by his father-in-law” and bent on the “the destruction and destabilisation of Poland.”

Sikorski is married to the American historian and journalist Anne Applebaum, who is of Jewish descent.

His lawyer is Roman Giertych, former leader of the ultra-conservative League of Polish Families, a party that was itself accused of anti-Semitism in 2007. (nh/pg)

tags: Sikorski
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