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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Summit debacle sparks Polish row
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

President Lech Kaczynski
President Kaczynski espouses conservative Catholic values
Eight former Polish foreign ministers have criticised President Lech Kaczynski for cancelling a 3 July summit meeting with Germany and France.

Their move came after a German newspaper, Die Tageszeitung, wrote a satirical article comparing the Polish leader to a potato.

Mr Kaczynski's office says he had to cancel his trip to the Weimar Triangle summit due to ill health.

But Polish media speculated that he did not go because the article angered him.

The offending article in Die Tageszeitung, a small-circulation left-wing newspaper, was entitled "Young Polish Potatoes - Rascals who want to rule the world".

It took a tongue-in-cheek look at the Polish president's alleged dim view of Germany.

The article said Mr Kaczynski often claimed all he knew about his country's neighbour was the spitoon in the toilets of Frankfurt airport.

Poles disgusted

Several days later Mr Kaczynski pulled out of his planned meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac in Weimar citing ill health.

Much of the press here thinks otherwise. They speculate the real reason was Mr Kaczynski was livid about the article.

Certainly the government has fiercely condemned it. Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz called it, presumably with no pun intended, "sickening".

The foreign minister said it used the language of a Nazi-era publication.

But the president's behaviour has been criticised by eight of the foreign minister's predecessors. In an open letter they wrote that Mr Kaczynski's failure to give a credible reason for not taking part in the summit had shown contempt for Poland's partners.

Polish nationalism resurgent
09 May 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Poland
07 May 06 |  Country profiles

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