Merkel Visiting Poland Amid Calls for WWII Reparations

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, pose during a welcome ceremony in the Polish capital ahead of intergovernmental consultations in Warsaw, Poland, Friday Nov. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Warsaw on Friday amid calls by Polish officials for Germany to pay Poland billions of dollars for damage inflicted by the Nazis during World War II.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki welcomed Merkel during a ceremony ahead of discussions between the two governments.

The talks come amid some strains between the two neighboring states, with many in Poland still bitter about the wartime German occupation, which saw the killing of millions of Polish citizens and massive material destruction.

Polish officials say Germany owes Poland up to $850 billion (743 billion euros) for the damage inflicted during World War II. Germany says Poland has no legal basis for the claims.

Another key issue straining ties is Poland’s vocal opposition to Nord Stream 2, a German-Russian gas pipeline project that Warsaw says will give Russia excessive control in Europe, hurting Poland and Ukraine in particular.

Berlin is also unhappy about changes by Morawiecki’s ruling Law and Justice party to Poland’s judicial system, which the European Union and others say erode judicial independence. The Polish government says it is reforming a corrupt and inefficient system.

Merkel announced Monday that she plans to step down in December as leader of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, but remain chancellor until the next election, launching a transition that could last three years.

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