New German foreign minister told that Poland want gas pipeline closed

Albert Zawada/PAP

The Polish foreign minister has demanded the closure of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline during his first meeting with the new German foreign minister.

Annalena Baerbock visited Warsaw on Friday, her third visit to a foreign capital since taking up her post.

During a joint press conference following their meeting, Zbigniew Rau declared that Poland would continue to demand that the gas pipeline, which he described as a project that was harmful to Europe, should be closed.

"Our politics regarding this topic will remain unchanged," the Polish diplomat said.

Nord Stream 2 is the controversial Russian-German gas pipeline which bypasses Ukraine and endangers, according to its critics, energy security in Eastern Europe. Poland has repeatedly warned that the pipeline will make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas and will put Europe at risk of blackmail by Moscow.

Rau added that it was also the politics conducted by the former German governments which was co-responsible for increasing the threat to peace in Europe posed by the pipeline.

"Being driven by greed for profit, (these governments -PAP) had taken a very bad decision - which is clearly visible today - to cooperate with Russia in the construction of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” he said.

Despite the attack on the pipeline, Rau was also keen to stress the importance of Baerbock’s visit.

"Symbols are an important element of politics and your visit is for me a sign of intentions to give Polish-German allied relations a priority, and base them on mutual respect, neighbourliness and friendliness," Rau said.

"This is a continuation of a good tradition, according to which, a new German foreign minister pays a visit to Warsaw shortly after visiting Paris and Brussels," Rau continued.

Rau also said that Poland was determined to strengthen a bilateral strategic dialogue, especially in areas when there was a difference of opinion.

Touching on the Second World War, a sensitive subject for the Polish government, Rau said Poland expected Germany to return to talks on art looted by Germany during the war, and to be ready to start negotiations on compensation.

"Remembrance of the past still has an impact on our current relations," Rau said, repeating that "Germany's responsibility for starting World War Two is one of the areas where Germany's good cooperation is expected."

The German minister assured her Polish counterpart of Germany's full solidarity with Poland and the Baltic States in the face of attempts by Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, to blackmail them.

Poland has been struggling to stem a wave of migrants trying to cross its eastern border from Belarus. EU members accuse the Belarusian president of instigating the crisis in order to destabilise the bloc.