Incoming German chancellor says Poland is a 'great nation'

"I am very happy that Poland is part of the EU and that people can get along with each other, but sometimes also struggle," Scholz said. Clemens Bilan/PAP/EPA

Olaf Scholz, the man expected to become the next German chancellor, said on Tuesday that Poland is a great nation and a “democracy”.

However, Scholz, who will take over the reins of power from Angela Merkel, added the caveat that Poland’s dispute with the EU over the rule of law must be clearly assessed.

Speaking in Berlin at a joint press conference with Green Party leader Robert Habeck and FDP leader Christian Lindner, Scholz said that "it is very important for the new German government to shape this neighbourhood in a friendly manner. Poland is a great nation, a democracy."

"I am very happy that Poland is part of the EU and that people can get along with each other, but sometimes also struggle," Scholz added.

As a country in the centre of Europe, he said, Germany "is not called to stand aside and make bad or kind comments".

Scholz said that Germany is responsible for coexistence in Europe, and had to ensure that the continent is not divided into North-South or East-West.

Addressing the rule of law dispute, the future chancellor said it had to be assessed because "it [the rule of law – PAP] also brings us together in Europe, a union of states committed to the rule of law and liberal democracy."

The German newspaper Die Welt also said that Scholz has assured Poland of his support in resolving the conflict on the border with Belarus.

On Tuesday, the parties of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP signed a coalition agreement. On Wednesday, Scholz, representing the SPD, is to be elected chancellor by the Bundestag and the new German government will start its work.