German, Polish leaders take conciliatory tone amid tensions

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2016 8:46 AM
German, Polish leaders take conciliatory tone amid tensions

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The foreign ministers of Germany and Poland took a conciliatory tone with each other as they met Thursday at a time of heightened tensions between the neighboring nations.

Calling each other by their first names at a news conference in Warsaw, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Witold Waszczykowski stressed what unites their countries.

Waszczykowski called his German counterpart a "friend of Poland" more than once and ended the news briefing with warm birthday greetings for Steinmeier, who turned 60 earlier this month.

It was Steinmeier's first visit to Poland since the right-wing Law and Justice party took power in November.

Some German officials have criticized Poland for its resistance to accepting migrants and for a new political direction seen as violating the some tenets of democracy, sparking anti-German rhetoric by some Polish officials.

The European Commission, the executive of the European Union, opened a preliminary inquiry last week into whether the new government in Warsaw is violating EU standards on the rule of law. Steinmeier declined to comment on that.

Steinmeier also met with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, who had announced earlier that she will travel to Germany on Feb. 12 for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel that will focus on Europe's migrant crisis.

Szydlo said the mechanisms by which some Western European countries are accepting large numbers of migrants from Africa and the Middle East "are not working" and a new approach should be discussed.

She said Poland prefers to help refugees outside Europe's borders, in refugee camps closest to their home countries, and is in talks with Turkey on the matter.

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Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.