Poland’s president has pulled out of an event in Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz after being told he would not be allowed to speak at the event.
“It turns out that the presidents of Russia, Germany and France – whose government collaborated with Nazi Germany at the time – will speak, but the organizers do not agree to a speech by the president of Poland,” Andrzej Duda said in a television interview on Sunday. “I absolutely do not agree to this.” On Tuesday, his office announced he would not take part.
Błażej Spychalski, a spokesman for Duda, told Polish news outlets that “a situation in which the president of Poland will sit and listen to the false words of President Putin without being able to reply is unacceptable”.
President Putin has recently made statements in which he whitewashed the Soviet Union’s 1939 non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany and subsequent invasion of Poland, and instead claims Poland was partly responsible for starting the second world war.
In a statement, Yad Vashem said it had never received an official Polish request for President Duda to speak, a claim denied by Marek Magierowski, Poland’s ambassador to Israel who said that both Yad Vashem and the Israeli authorities had known about “the conditions for the participation of President Duda” for at least four months.