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Russian ambassador explains his words about Poland’s responsibility in WWII

September 28, 2015, 12:21 UTC+3
The diplomat said his words were misinterpreted
1 pages in this article
© Fotokhronika TASS/Georgiy Konovalov

WARSAW, September 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Ambassador to Poland Sergei Andreyev, summoned to the republic’s foreign ministry for his statements regarding World War II, explained his words about Poland’s responsibility during World War II. The ambassador said he was not handed a note of protest.

"That was a poor interpretation," he said. "I did not mean to say Poland bears a part of responsibility for beginning of World War II."

"Unfortunately, in the interview I was not precise enough, thus causing the reaction, which followed," the ambassador said. "That was the key claim I’ve heard in connection with that interview."

"I did not mean to insult the people of Poland. We take with great respect the heroism of the Polish nation in fighting the Nazi aggression, of the underground’s fighting the occupation, and the participation of the Polish Army (Wojsko Polskie) in the battles of World War II," he said. "However, speaking about the policies of the Polish government in the 30s, Poland, unfortunately, became a victim of its policies."

"I have not received a formal note," he said. "The foreign ministry will make a statement following our meeting."

The scandal broke out as Ambassador Andreyev told Polish TWN24 channel on Friday night the Russian-Polish relations were currently standing at the lowest level since 1945. He blamed Poland for this, saying the Polish government had frozen all the political, cultural and humanitarian contacts.

As he mentioned the causes of World War II, Andreyev recalled that Poland had blocked many a time the setting up of an anti-Hitler coalition during the 1930’s. "That’s why Poland is partly responsible for the disaster, which broke out in September 1939."

Polish officials rushed to accuse him of a misunderstanding of history.

"These hurting words flow out of misunderstanding of history and particularly of the degree, to which they are unfair and untruthful," Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said.

"We find the assessments provided by the Russian ambassador to be harmful, as they undermine the results of activity of a joint institute called the Polish-Russian Group for Complicated Problems," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Cezary Tomczyk, the press secretary of the Polish cabinet of ministers told TWN24 channel on Sunday the Polish government did not rule out a possibility of Ambassador Andreyev’s expulsion.

It is time for Poland to decide on whether it wants to remember the past while moving forward or to make the future contingent on time-serving interpretations of history, Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday as she commented on the declarations by Polish officials on a possible expulsion of the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Andreyev.

"When we heard a yet another insulting accusation or historical insinuation from Warsaw targeted at Russia, our Foreign Ministry offered explanations for Moscow's position each time and recommended to leave history for the historians," she said. "Just take the claim about the liberation of Auschwitz/Birkenau by the Ukrainians."

"And then all sorts of things the Polish officials churned out in connection with the jubilee of VE-Day," Zakharova continued.

"That's just a vicious circle," she said. "And recall that for many years we have a successfully working commission for the solution of complicated historical problems. It did really unique work, as it managed to publish collections of documents and to tap solutions to knottiest dilemmas."

"It’s time for Poland to decide now on if it wants to remember the past while moving forward or to make the future contingent on transitory interpretations of history," Zakharova said.

"We speak in favour of the former approach," she said. "There’s a bold Russian saying: he who recalls the bygone gets a punch in the eye, and he who forgets it gets a punch in both eyes."

"It’s important to remember history, our common history but we must remember it for averting errors in the future, for being wiser, for treasuring peace and good-neighbourliness," Zakharova said. "We must bring up the young generations of people on the samples of history that don’t fan reciprocal hatred but, rather, disseminate mutual respect."

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