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Poland calls on Putin not to exploit memory of Holocaust victims

TVN24 | TVN24 News in English

TVN24 News in English, PAP

We call upon the president of Russia not to exploit the memory about Holocaust victims to use it in political strife - Poland's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said on Tuesday. He also reassured that the Polish government is prepared for Vladimir Putin's speech at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.

The World Holocaust Forum, marking the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp liberation, will begin on Thursday in Yad Vashem institute in Jerusalem. President Andrzej Duda informed in early January that he wouldn't be taking part in this event because the hosts did not schedule a speech of the Polish head of state. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is expected to deliver his speech.

During Tuesday's press conference Szynkowski vel Sęk said this would give Putin "another chance to impose his own version of history, cause and course of the World War Two, as well as to legitimise Russia's international policy".

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that in the late December, 2019, President Putin and other top Russian officials "fiercely attacked Poland and Poles by falsifying facts about the WWII and the Holocaust, as well as by presenting slanderous opinions and theses about our country and nation". Among other things, he pointed out accusations of collaboration between the Second Polish Republic and the Third Reich, and of anti-Semitism.

"President Andrzej Duda has every right to assume that the January conference in Jerusalem will be used instrumentally president Putin to justify current Russian policy towards Poland, without referring to historical truth, and most importantly, with no respect for the victims of the World War Two and the Holocaust," said the deputy minister.

Szynkowski vel Sęk added that the Polish president "couldn't have allowed such situation to happen, in which the representative of the Polish state is forced to listen to this sort of insult without a chance to respond, in silence".

"Despite three million Polish Jews fell victim to Shoah, despite on Polish territory occupied by the Third Reich the Germans build factories of death and carried out Holocaust of European Jews, despite Poles, who were saving Jews from German annihilation, are the biggest group among those awarded with the Righteous Among the Nations title by the Yad Vashem institute," he stressed.

As a result, said the deputy minister, the president had decided not to accept the invitation to the Jerusalem conference, and Poland would be represented there by the Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski.

"We call upon the president of Russia not to exploit the memory about Holocaust victims to use it in political strife," announced the minister.

Asked if the MFA was prepared for January 23rd when the Russian president would be expected to deliver a speech, Szynkowski vel Sęk said: "We are ready for the coming days, we are ready for the speeches that will take place in Jerusalem, including the one by the president of the Russian Federation".

He reiterated the appeal to the Russian president not to use the memory of the Holocaust and its victims to political goals because it would be undignified. "We call (on Vladimir Putin) not to do so," said Szynkowski vel Sęk. "If it happens - we shall be looking closely at the Jerusalem conference - we will give an appropriate response," deputy minister announced.

He also expressed his opinion that President Duda's absence in Jerusalem could be "symbolically stronger" than what it would be said during the event. "Especially if what it is to be said there won't have much in common with the historical truth," he said.

"It would seem obvious that Poland had been the first and the worst victim of Nazi German aggression, joined after 17 days by the Soviet onslaught. It appears that, in the face of propaganda of falsifying the WWII history, it's still necessary to keep reminding the facts. This is what we do, this our commitment to the victims, to their families," said deputy foreign minister.

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP