Polish leader hails reconciliation with Germany

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By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's foreign minister said Wednesday that a decades-long effort at reconciliation with Germany, once a historic foe, "is pretty much done" and the two neighbors "are now at a stage of consummating" the relationship.

The comments, in English, by Radek Sikorski underline the strong friendship that has developed between two countries whose ties were long defined by occupation, warfare and oppression. The words also come half a year after Sikorski got huge attention with a speech in Berlin calling on Germany to use its power more decisively to stem the economic crisis in Europe.

It would have once been unthinkable for a Polish leader to call for a more powerful Germany — and Sikorski's doing so sparked the anger of some Poles. Still, his tone shows just how far the relationship between the two European Union members has evolved more than 70 years after Nazi Germany invaded Poland and subjected the country to a brutal occupation that killed 6 million Polish citizens.

Sikorski spoke Wednesday during a discussion in Warsaw alongside Henry Kissinger, the 89-year-old former U.S. Secretary of State. The event was billed as a debate, but the two generally agreed when asked about Europe's foreign policy before an audience that included diplomats and academics.

Sikorski was asked about the strong support many Poles are showing for the German national football team as its gears up for a semi-final match against Italy at the European Championship on Thursday.

"It must have something to do with the fact that we have Polish players on the German team," Sikorski answered. "But I would say that the job of reconciliation with Germany is pretty much done. We are now at a stage of consummating the actual Polish-German alliance."

Sikorski noted that Germany and Poland are allies in NATO and the EU that do "daily business" with each other on a whole range of issues.

Noting that Germany is Poland's largest trade partner, Sikorski described the friendship between Warsaw and Berlin as "a very intimate relationship."

In more proof of the improved relationship, the former Polish President Lech Walesa said he supported Germany when it defeated Greece in a quarterfinal match last week.

Walesa told Wednesday's issue of the daily paper Metro that he switched his allegiance to Germany "for the first time in my life." Poland, a co-host of Euro 2012, has already been eliminated.

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