Poland’s top officials met to discuss foreign policy amid rising tensions with the US over new legislation that criminalizes suggestions that the Polish nation was in any way responsible for the Holocaust.
President Andrzej Duda held talks with Premier Mateusz Morawiecki and Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz on Tuesday, according to the government press office. Before the meeting, broadcaster Radio Zet reported the talks were set to focus on relations with the US, which NATO member Poland sees as the guarantor of its national security against an increasingly assertive Russia.
The officials discussed the “Three Seas Initiative” among other issues, Duda’s office said on its Twitter account. Duda and U.S. President Donald Trump last year attended a meeting of the group, which aims to strengthen trade, infrastructure, energy and political co-operation among 12 countries bordering the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas.
Krakow-based news website Onet.pl earlier reported, citing a Polish diplomatic note, that the US gave Poland an ultimatum to back off with parts of the Holocaust law — which Washington says curb the freedom of speech — or face consequences. Such “informal” sanctions may include a ban on meetings with the US President and Vice President as well as a blockade on funding for joint military projects, according to Onet.pl. A deputy foreign minister rejected the website’s report as “not true.”
A key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation buffer state against Russia, Poland until recently had warm relations with the U.S. and Trump, who praised the ruling Law & Justice party last year for putting Poles first and maintaining high defense spending. Last month, the US State Department warned that the Holocaust law might affect “Poland’s strategic interests,” while US Ambassador Paul Jones said that dialog and a free media were needed to overcome false testimonies of history.
Poland lurched into the international spotlight this year after the government pushed through legislation making suggests that the Polish state or nation were complicit in the Holocaust a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. While the law has drawn condemnation from Israel and the US, Premier Morawiecki told Bloomberg that Poland needed to be more assertive to counter a rising tide of “anti-Polonism.”