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March 7, 2018 3:32 pm

Despite Security Assurances, Polish Concerns that Holocaust Law Will Damage Ties With US Linger

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Polish President Andrzej Duda (r) welcomes US President Donald Trump to Poland in July 2017. Photo: Reuters / Carlos Barria.

Poland’s widely-condemned legislation on the commemoration of the Nazi Holocaust will not impact vital security relations with the United States, American officials confirmed on Tuesday — but those reassurances have not allayed concerns in Warsaw that the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) Act, which criminalizes public discussion of Polish collusion with the Nazi authorities during World War II, is placing an uncomfortable strain on the alliance with the US.

In an article on Wednesday for Rzeczpospolita, one of Poland’s leading newspapers, commentator Michał Szułdrzyński charged that Poland’s conservative government had placed the country in its “most serious diplomatic crisis for 27 years” as a result of the new law.

Arguing that Poland’s very existence depended on its alliance with the US, Szułdrzyński asked: “Is the IPN law…worth the price of our security?”

At Tuesday’s State Department briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed that media reports “that allege any kind of a suspension in security cooperation or high-level dialogue” because of the legislation were “simply false.”

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“Poland is a close NATO ally, that hasn’t changed,” Nauert said. “People are trying to find distance or space between our longstanding relationship, and there is no space there.”

However, Nauert stressed that US objections to the Holocaust legislation remained intact. “We’ve made our disagreements, our disappointment with that legislation clear,” she said.

Szułdrzyński argued in his article that the legislation could yet compromise diplomatic ties with the US. He said that Polish diplomats had falsely assured their American counterparts that the more radical measures of the IPN Act would be amended by the country’s Senate, and that he now feared that Poland’s image in the eyes of the US Congress would be damaged.

“How can we expect serious treatment from a partner whom we do not ourselves treat seriously?” he asked.

Claims of a freeze in US-Polish ties originated on the website Onet.pl, which cited a memo from the Polish Embassy in Washington as the source of its report. One senior Polish official, Jacek Sasin, said on Wednesday that the report was evidence that an “informational war is being waged at the moment against the Polish government.”

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