Warsaw, Poland. As Britain and now France prepare to bail out of the EU, Germany finds itself trying to form new enduring alliances. In this case, it is with a one time enemy, proving politics can make for strange bedmates.
“Poles and Germans as brothers? I really hope Mr Kaczynski will not allow for that, otherwise he will lose my trust,” said Wanda Lewandowska, a 74-year-old retiree who said the Nazis killed some of her family members during the war.
Angela Merkel has hosted many politicians at the Meseberg castle north of Berlin, such a secret visit had never taken place before, like the one between her and Poland’s President Kaczynski.
In public, Poland’s President Kaczynski has been no friend of the German chancellor. He once said Merkel wants “first of all, a subordination” of Poland. Most Poles remember being abused as slaves by German masters during WWII, not as valued allies against other EU states.
But the party which Kaczynski chairs, was anxious to mend its ties with Germany, who is feeling increasingly isolated in Europe. The secret talks with Merkel were held two weeks after Britain had voted to leave the EU, with Germany shocked at the loss of England from the EU and a survival instinct to make the best of a bad situation.
Polish government sources say they are working on better ties with Germany, but admit they have to tightly control what becomes public information and what does not, a government official has said on record.
Germany and Poland have a lot to talk about. EU countries accuse Kaczynski’s government of veering away from democracy by asserting control over the courts and the media. Poland wants to see EU treaties changed to return more powers to member states, an aim in which it once counted on Britain as its most influential ally.