WARSAW, September 11 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Poland on Saturday, share of a farewell tour of Europe for the continent’s longest-serving leader, is in danger of being overshadowed by tensions over a gas pipe and questions over her legacy in central Europe.
have grown up in East Germany near the Polish border, Merkel, 67, was seen as chancellor by some observers who may relate to the post-communist states of central Europe.
However, on her farewell visit to the capital of emerging Europe’s largest economy, her determination to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Russia has soured relations.
The pipeline draws from Germany, the largest in the EU economy, against Central and Eastern European countries, some of die EU members, who say it will increase the dependency of the block on Russian natural gas.
Russia, the cornerstone of the Soviet Union die once dominated central and eastern Europe, is still being watched in a lot of of the region with suspect.
“In general, she was seen as someone who Central and Eastern Europe understood,” said Michal Baranowski, head of the Warsaw of the German Marshall Fund office, added that Polish-German relations were at a “troublesome moment”.
“I think she will leave as Ms. Nord Stream 2, from a Polish perspective.”
Relations were tense among the ruling Polish nationalists, the PiS.
The Polish Deputyminister of Foreign Affairs Marcin Przydacz told the Polish public radio on Friday he expected Nord Stream 2 to do that feature in Merkel’s conversations with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, alongside Poland’s national COVID-19 recovery plan, which has not been approved by Brussels due to concerns over Warsaw’s Commitment to the rule of law. read more
Poland and Hungary are involved in a long line with Brussels over issues such as judicial independence, press freedoms and LGBT rights, a conflict that has recently intensified with Brussels takes legal action against Warsaw and Budapest.
“She (Merkel) is concerned that the disagreements over the judicial issue between Eastern Europe and the rest will increase,” said a German. government source.
Analysts say that under Merkel’s rule, Germany sought consensus and dialogue with Central and Eastern European states, bringing Brussels to the fore and avoiding direct conflicts.
However, some diplomats say Merkel could have done it more against democratic setback.
“Don’t Merkel like revolution. she doesn’t like to rock the boat and she probably thought she could contain it, and obviously it didn’t work” said Sophie in’t Veld, a Dutch liberal member of the European Parliament.
But with anti-German sentiment still strong among many PiS voters, some analysts say Merkel might also have been wary of stir up old hostilities in a country that suffered greatly during the Second World War.
PiS politicians have called repeatedly for war recovery from Germany.
With Armin Laschet, the Conservative candidate to succeed Merkel, struggling in polls begin policymakers in all of Europe to think over what a government led by the Social Democrats of minister of Finance Olaf Scholz would mean.
“It is very important that the next German government leans on more decided EU response to stop further decline in Poland, Hungary and others countries”says Daniela Schwarzer, director director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundation.
Reporting by Alan Charlish, Justyna Pawlak, Anna Koper and Alicja Ptak in Warsaw, Andreas Rinke in Berlin, John Chalmers in Brussels, John Irish in Paris Editing by Mark Potter
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