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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 21:09 GMT 22:09 UK
Poland rejects reparations call
Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka
Belka said Poland would try to put a figure on its wartime losses
The Polish government has said it will not seek World War II reparations from Germany, rejecting parliament's calls to reopen the controversial issue.

"The question of claims in Polish-German relations is once and for all closed," Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka said after a cabinet meeting.

Last week, Polish MPs voted for a resolution calling on Germany to pay for war damages.

Some six million Poles died after Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939.

Poland's communist authorities gave up all reparation claims in 1953.

But the issue has recently threatened to undermine the generally good ties between the European Union's biggest new member and its largest trading partner, Germany, the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw reports.

Thorny issue

The non-binding resolution in the Polish parliament - the Sejm - was commonly seen as a response to claims from a small group of Germans for ancestral property lost when Poland's borders shifted westwards at the end of the war.

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta conference in 1945
The wartime Allies moved Poland's borders

An estimated 2.5 million Germans were forced to leave their homes at the time.

The resolution caused outrage in Germany.

One of the German groups, the Preussische Treuhand (the Prussian Claim Society), has said it will take cases to the Polish and European courts.

The German government had earlier vowed not to back the German group's claims on Poland.

However, a ruling in June by the European Court of Human Rights that Poland must compensate German citizens for lost property opened the doors for such claims.

Most Poles hugely resent such claims, and Prime Minister Belka said after the cabinet meeting such demands were "utterly inconceivable".

After also rejecting the Sejm resolution, Mr Belka said his government would try to put a figure on Poland's wartime losses.

Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said such a move would serve as a reminder to "all those who forgot what World War II was, what its effects and consequences were".

For its size, Poland suffered far more damage and casualties than any other country, our correspondent says.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - who has condemned the German claims - said earlier on Tuesday the Sejm resolution "must be rejected".


SEE ALSO:
Warsaw Jews mark uprising
20 Apr 03  |  Europe
Stalin's Polish victims mourned
03 Sep 00  |  Europe


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