Polish PM will not attend V4 summit in Israel, spokesperson confirms

Government spokesperson Joanna Kopcińska confirmed on Sunday earlier reports by a news website that PM Mateusz Morawiecki will not attend a summit of the Central European regional group V4, scheduled to take place in Jerusalem this coming Tuesday.

The V4, or the Visegrad Group in full, comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Poland will be represented by Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, Kopcińska said.

In a telephone conversation on Sunday, PM Morawiecki informed his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, who will attend the summit, of his decision.

The spokesperson said that "PM Netanyahu stressed that he remains fully committed to the joint declaration adopted on June 27, 2018, in which both heads of government stated, among other things, that such statements (implying Polish complicity in Nazi German crimes - PAP) are grossly erroneous and limit the responsibility of the real perpetrators of the crimes."

"PM Morawiecki stressed that he remains committed to the June declaration, as well. He also stated that the issues of historical truth and the sacrifices that Poland suffered during World War II are of fundamental importance for our country," Kopcińska said.

Michał Dworczyk, the head of the Prime Minister's Office, also confirmed that Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz will represent Poland at the summit.

According to him, the telephone conversation was "long and good." "PM Benjamin Netanyahu thanked PM Morawiecki for organising the summit that took place recently. Poland was its co-organiser, along with the United States."

Poland has recently hosted the Middle East peace and security summit, attended by officials from several dozen countries.

"There was also information on the change in Poland's delegation at the V4 meeting in Israel," Dworczyk said.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday evening that during his stay in Warsaw, Benjamin Netanyahu had said that the Poles had collaborated with the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari was summoned by the Polish Foreign Ministry on Friday to offer explanations regarding the Israeli PM's words. The ambassador said PM Netanyahu was not talking about Poland or the Polish nation.

This was later reiterated by the Israeli Prime Minister's office in the following statement:

"In a briefing, PM Netanyahu spoke of Poles and not the Polish people or the country of Poland. This was misquoted and misrepresented in press reports and was subsequently corrected by the journalist who issued the initial misstatement."

Dworczyk noted that "PM Morawiecki takes very seriously the issue of accusing the Polish state or the Polish nation of acts that we did not commit during World War II." "These statements have generated further discussions, with a number of unjust and untrue accusations against Poland."

"This is why PM Mateusz Morawiecki has taken this decision," Dworczyk concluded.

The Polish delegation change was first reported by the wPolityce.pl news website. According to wPolityce.pl, the conversation was "very good". "Netanyahu assured Morawiecki that he completely accepts their joint declaration from last year."

Last June, Morawiecki in Warsaw and Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv signed a joint statement which emphasised that the contacts between Poland and Israel and between their societies "have been based on well-grounded trust and understanding" and on cooperation in the international arena, as well as on matters regarding preservation of memory and education of the Holocaust.

Morawiecki and Netanyahu also called for a return to "civil and respectful dialogue in the public discourse."

The announcement of the declaration came after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed into law an amendment to a January anti-defamation law. The amendment repeals a clause penalising with a prison term suggestions of Polish complicity in Nazi crimes during World War Two. The act in the previous form met with criticism from Israel and the United States among other countries.