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German chancellor meddling in Polish elections – Warsaw

Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau asked Berlin to respect its neighbor’s sovereignty

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau speaks at an event in Bratislava, Slovakia, om May 30, 2023. ©  Michal Cizek / AFP

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has attempted to interfere in the Polish parliamentary election scheduled for next month, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said. The rebuke came after Scholz raised concern over the cash-for-visas scandal that became one of the issues of the campaign.

“The latest statement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz violates the principles of the sovereign equality of states, which is the foundation of good neighborly relations and friendly cooperation with Poland,” Rau wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Sunday, adding that Polish internal affairs were outside the chancellor’s purview.

“Statements in this regard indicate an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Polish State and the ongoing electoral campaign in Poland,” Rau argued. He asked Scholz to “respect Poland’s sovereignty and refrain from statements that damage our mutual relations.”

Scholz earlier demanded “clarification” from Warsaw over the allegations that the Polish government had tolerated an illegal visa scheme, which involved migrants from outside the EU. The chancellor spoke in favor of “additional measures” at the border with Poland, while the German Interior Ministry summoned the Polish ambassador over the matter. 

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Germany rebukes neighbor over migrants

Poland’s chief opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform, accused the ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) of a corruption scheme, in which work visas were sold at Polish consulates around the world. The issue is particularly sensitive, given the ruling party’s tough stance on migration and border controls. The matter rattled Berlin because Poland and Germany do not have a physical border. 

While Poland admitted that a number of visas were issued illegally and charged seven people in relation to the affair, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro insisted that the summoning of the country’s envoy by Berlin was based on “false media reports.”

Apart from the scandal with visas, Warsaw is currently feuding with its eastern neighbor Ukraine over grain trade. On Friday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of “insulting” the Polish people, after Zelensky had criticized Warsaw’s decision to close its domestic market to grain from Ukraine. Polish officials insisted that the ban was a necessary measure to protect the country’s farmers.

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