Supreme Administrative Court: Westerplatte returns to Gdańsk
Part of the Westerplatte territory, including the Monument to the Defenders of the Coast, returns under Gdańsk administration, said the city mayor spokesman. The decision was made by the Supreme Administrative Court (NSA). In 2019, the plot was taken over by the state with a special act. After the legislation came into force, construction of an external exhibition has been launched. Since then the city hasn't been allowed to organise WWII outbreak anniversary commemorations.
Daniel Stenzel, spokesman for Gdańsk Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, informed on Friday that the Supreme Administrative Court has decided a part of the Westerplatte territory, taken over by the state in 2019 with a special act, will return to the city of Gdańsk. The ruling is legally binding.
"Since the very beginning, the city has been questioning the decision of the Pomeranian Voivode and Development Minister, under which the plot of land, including the monument, were taken over by the State Treasury. City attorneys pointed out clear mistakes and not meeting all requirements imposed on investors in the special act. Similar legal defects have been found in decisions issued by: the Pomeranian Voivode, and then the Development Minister," the spokesman said.
Deputy chief of Gdańsk Mayor Office Maciej Buczkowski commented on the NSA ruling.
"This ruling means that government officials weren't following the provisions of their own legislation, which had been adopted in a flash, and based on which the plot with the monument was taken over. Based on this, the Defence Ministry and its chief Mariusz Błaszczak organised commemorations in 2020 and 2021. It turns out that, in the light of today's ruling by the NSA, had a very dubious legal basis," Maciej Buczkowski said.
Daniel Stenzel added that another legal dispute has been going on, over a plot at which the Museum of the Second World War plans to build a new cemetery for the Fallen Defenders of Westerplatte.
"The Voivodeship Administrative Court has already issued a ruling revoking the ministry resolution, and it's highly likely the NSA will sustain this decision," he said.
"Let's look back at the takeover of the Westerplatte, finalised by the government in the summer of 2019. It was done forcibly, by rejecting all compromise solutions. As a result, people of Gdańsk have been stripped of their right to organise September 1 commemorations in honour of the heroic defenders of Westerplatte, both military and civilian," he added.
State takeover with a special act
In the summer of 2019, the Sejm passed the special act, which assumed construction of a museum at the Westerplatte peninsula, that would become a part of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk. The new regulations assumed expropriation of land owners, including the city of Gdańsk, from the territory where the defence of Westerplatte had taken place in 1939. The legislation - as its authors and supporters convinced - was meant to improve the construction of an open-air Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939. According to PiS lawmakers, the land was not being properly used to serve Polish remembrance.
The draft legislation put forward by Law and Justice MPs has been criticised by opposition and Gdańsk authorities since the very beginning. In July of 2019, Gdańsk Mayor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz informed she had sent a letter to Poland's president, asking him to either veto the special act, or send it over to the Constitutional Tribunal. Nevertheless, Andrzej Duda signed the controversial bill into law on August 1.
After the legislation came into force, the WWII outbreak anniversary commemorations at Westerplatte were no longer organised by the city of Gdańsk, but the Polish Armed Forces.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, TVN24
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