Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tensions in Polish foreign ministry over German potato jibe?

Warsaw’s ambassador in Berlin admits that President Kaczynski has gone over the top by demanding an apology from the German government.

Speaking in a Financial Times interview in Berlin, ambassador Andrzej Byrt (above) said Warsaw’s reaction to a controversial satirical article [see here and here] in a German newspaper in which the Polish president was compared to a potato had been “too emotional”…

The German government has cited the principles of press freedom and says it would be inappropriate for it to apologize.

Ambassador Byrt then repeats what many think about the PiS government: that they are naïve about, and disinterested in, foreign affairs.

“There is an over-sensitivity in Poland, because many new politicians hardly know foreign countries. They believe they control foreign reactions [to events in Poland] in the same way they do in Poland itself. To do this with foreign partners is perhaps not very sensible”.

Strong stuff. That such a high ranking Polish official should admit that calls for the German government to apologize are a little ‘emotional’ shows some disquiet over the antics of the Kaczynskis administration within the administration itself.

We also know that if you break from the official government line here then you won’t keep your job very long.

So what gave Ambassador Byrt the balls to say such a thing at such a delicate period in Polish - German relations?

Well, Byrt is scheduled to end his term as Poland’s Ambassador in Berlin at the end of this month.



beatroot said...

Well, yes. Indeed. And you right. What right has a government to tell national newspapers what to do, no matter which country they are in? Thankfully, newspapers do not come under the control of the PiS packed Radio and Television Council...yet.

Byrt was contacted by the government and told to shut up, but he went on giving radio interviews in Germany. So I think he will be leaving the diplomatic service at the end of the month....

Anonymous said...

KO/D1 - ANDRZEJ BYRT, TW, syn Jana, urodzony 20 września 1949 roku w Poznaniu, zamieszkały w Warszawie, wiceministrem współpracy gospodarczej z zagranicą w rządzie Suchockiej i Pawlaka (1992-1995), ambasador Polski w Niemczech (1996-2000), podsekretarz stanu w Kancelarii PRM, doradca prezydenta Kwaśniewskiego (2001) oświadczył, że był świadomym i tajnym współpracownikiem organów bezpieczeństwa państwa. W nagrodę zostaą podsekretarzem stanu w MSZ (2001).

Byrt ukończył poznańską Akademię Ekonomiczną. Tam też pracował naukowo, jest doktorem nauk ekonomicznych, był dyrektorem Międzynarodowych Targów Poznańskich (1982 -1987), szefem Biura Radcy Handlowego w Brukseli (1987-1991), wtedy miało dojść do współpracy z I Departamentem - wywiadem gospodarczym. Po raz drugi został ambasadorem Polski w Niemczech (2001 -2005).

To make the long thing shorter for not polish speakers: Mr. Byrt was a secret colaborator of the foreign intelligence in the old good comunist times. He should be kicked out at least last October.

For me the whole taz thing looks very very strange. There are paragraphs in this article that looks like as if they were "cooked" on the right bank of the Oder...

beatroot said...

Do you mean cooked as in a baked pototo?

Stefan...where you beeeeen?

He looks like he is a career diplomat since before 1989...but he has also worked for the early post-1989 governments. And now is retiring, probably.

He must have seen lots of governments - right and left - come and go. He apparently is not so keen on this one.

As Edward Lucas (Economist) says - under this administration, Poland risks making itself look like an international laughing stock'.

Although I would question the future tense in that comment.

Anonymous said...

One key thing PiS don't seem to have yet worked out is that when they brought Lepper and Giertych into government, they made them (and Maciej Giertych, of Franco fame) into Poland's public face to the world. And therefore were completely surprised by the mix of international criticism and fun-poking that came their way.

Byrt may be a busted flush (and doubtless an embittered one at that), but he does kind of have a point - Poland's foreign relations seem to be at a low ebb, even with key partners. And you can bet he is not alone in the MSZ in thinking that way..

Anonymous said...

Byrt was a colabolator of the former secret services and Poland deserves to have better diplomatic service. He should ( and will be kicked out) as others fellas like him and I can bet that the problems that suddenly appeared will be easier to solve.

Beatroot a question. Where is an extensive note on Mr Giertych ( one of your favourite characters until now) and his visit to Jedwabne. You serve us with some unimportant stuff about stupid beauty contest instead provide infos and comments on this really important event. Doesn't fit to your narrow worldview of "objective journalism"? Ha?

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

Pan Stefan: I see time and age hasn’t mellowed you. Or made you any less predictable. Alas…

To be honest, I hadn’t even heard about this.

You would think such a visit of ‘historic’ proportions - where the far-right education secretary goes to Jedwabne, the site of a Jewish pogrom - would have been on Fakty or one of the other main news programs.

That’s the uklad for you!

The last time Roman Giertych made the news was recently, after the Israeli government refused to have anything to do with him and asked for the exchange programs between Israeli and Polish school kids to be controlled not, as usual, by the education secretary, but anyone but Giertych.

Surly Giertych’s visit to Jedwabne and the Israeli protest about him couldn’t be related?

No, it must have been a coincidence.

Enlighten me, Stefan

Anonymous said...

Stefan Michnik -- another person who wants bloggers to write what he wants to read. But they won't, they won't. They keep writing about what interests them! It's all so unfair.

beatroot said...

Bloggers keep writing about what interests them! It's all so unfair.

Thank you! At last someone gets it!

michael farris said...

It's nice to see that Stefan still places ideological purity over mundane concepts like 'competence'.

I'm sure he'll be pleased to see that of the three presidents that Poland has had since 1990, the Duck comes in dead last in peoples opinions (behind ex-commy Kwasniewski).

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