Polish-Czech relations are good despite lignite mine dispute, says FM

Albert Zawada/PAP

The Polish foreign minister has said that, despite the ongoing dispute regarding the Turów lignite mine in Poland, "Polish-Czech relations in other dimensions are very good."

"These relations do not differ from the standard of contacts, which are proper for our partners from the Visegrad Group," Minister Zbigniew Rau said on Sunday, referring to a verdict regarding the mine issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Friday.

"I am saying this with full responsibility," he said.

The CJEU supported a request by the Czech Republic for production to be stopped at the Turów lignite mine in the south-west of Poland, and ordered the country to immediately suspend extraction.

The Turów open-cast mine is located close to Poland's border with the Czech Republic and Germany. The Czech Republic has been seeking its closure owing to environmental concerns.

The suspension of the mine's activities will remain in place until a final verdict is issued, the court said.

Rau expressed his conviction that there was still a chance for a compromise.

"Keeping in mind the entire achievement of our good neighbourly relations with the Czech Republic, I deeply believe that negotiations can be successful" he stated.

Referring to the Friday verdict, Minister Rau described it as "bizarre," and said it was "an example of radical judicial activism."

"It will surely go down in the CJEU history as such," he said, adding that the verdict was absolutely disproportionate in relation to the actual state. Rau also criticised the fact that the court had taken into account neither the energy security of a big state nor the economic and social dimension of the ruling.

The official said that the dispute regarding the Turow mine had repeatedly been a subject of talks with the Czech Republic.

"The Foreign Ministry had created a very good climate for negotiations," Rau said, adding that, at first, the Czech partners were willing to discuss the problem.

"And last December, this position became more rigid," he said, explaining that "the Czech partners were under pressure due to local and parliamentary elections in their country."