Statement on restitution to Polish Jews taken out of context - PM

2019-05-22 11:56 update: 2019-05-22, 20:47
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki Photo PAP/Jakub Kamiński
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki Photo PAP/Jakub Kamiński
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, when asked on Tuesday to comment on the reaction of the World Jewish Congress to his statement on WWII restitution, said that a fragment of his speech was taken out of context.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the head of the government was asked to comment on the position of the World Jewish Congress, which on Monday criticised a statement made by him earlier, in which he said that the government would not agree to pay World War Two compensation claims to anyone.

The prime minister asserted that a "fragment of a sentence" was taken out of context. "If they had read the entire statement, then I think they would not have criticised it, because no one who is good, no one who is reasonable and no one who has historical truth at heart, wants to switch the positions of the executioner and the victim. And that is exactly what I said, then, in my statement," said Morawiecki. 

On Friday, during a Law and Justice political party convention in Łódż, central Poland, the prime minister said that Poland would not pay anyone compensation claims related to World War Two. He reminded everyone about the German crimes in Łódż during the Second World War, as well as the looting of property. "That is why, today, if someone says that Poland should pay damages to anyone, we say 'they do not have our consent'," he declared.

"They do not have our consent, nor will there be any. And there will not be any consent as long as Law and Justice is in power," he added. The prime minister said that, "if it were ever to get to the point where the executioner and the victim are switched, then that would go against all the principles of international law, and it would also be Hitler's posthumous victory."

Morawiecki’s speech, given on Friday, was criticised in a press release by the World Jewish Congress on Monday. "This unwillingness to acknowledge that the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs are entitled to a modicum of material justice is unfortunate enough," said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. "I hope that Prime Minister Morawiecki was misquoted and can provide an explanation. Otherwise, the sentiments underlying his words can only be characterized as reprehensible and must be thoroughly rejected. As a long-time friend of Poland and the Polish people, I call upon Prime Minister Morawiecki to either deny or retract this deeply offensive and utterly incomprehensible statement," he declared. (PAP)