europeans should remember their history

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Mar. 25, 2003
    Polish ambassador: Europeans should remember their history

    European countries which are highly critical of both the American war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Washington's allies would do well to remember that it was the US which saved Europe from disaster at least twice in the last century, Polish Ambassador Maciej Kozlowski said on Monday.

    "Europe should remember what America has done in the last 80 years, in which it twice saved Europe from calamity," Kozlowski said in an interview at the Polish Consulate in Jerusalem.

    Brushing aside French President Jacques Chirac's harsh criticism of those European countries which support the war, he said that France and Germany are misreading the political situation.

    "We regard the military operation under way as the international community's fulfillment and implementation of 17 past UN resolutions which were promised by Iraq and never carried out," he said. "That other countries, who backed the first Gulf War, do not view it this way is regrettable."

    Arguing that America is acting on behalf of the world community, Kozlowski said: "The last 12 years, since the first Gulf War, have not been a period of peace in Iraq, but simply one of cease-fire."

    In a mostly symbolic move that exemplifies the pro-American stance that Poland has taken, the Polish army sent some 200 troops including special commando forces, navy, and chemical warfare experts to buttress the primarily American and British forces. The country's small contingent of special forces, which also operated in Afghanistan, is reportedly now in action in Iraq.

    Poland's and other Eastern European countries' strong backing of the US position on Iraq has led to deep rifts between them and France and Germany, who have led the international anti-war stance.

    Last month, Chirac, in an unusually emotional outburst, derided the Central and Eastern European countries that have signed letters expressing their support for the American policy for being "badly brought up," and castigated them for having missed "an opportunity to keep quiet." In his comments, he suggested that siding with America and opposing France and Germany could hurt candidates for European Union membership.

    With the Poles hoping to be members of the EU by next year, the timing of the spat could hardly be worse, although Kozlowski said that as far as he knows the "calendar" for Polish entry is still "on schedule."

    "I hope the rift is not as deep as it seems," he said. "It is only normal that various countries in Europe have differences of opinion." Declaring that each country has deeply different historical remembrances, Kozlowski, who came to Jerusalem without a gas mask, said that Poland remembers America opposing communist and other "brutal" dictatorships.

    "As such, we accepted as inevitable the war with Saddam, who by everybody's account is a brutal dictator," he said.

    More recently, the Poles are also indebted to the Americans for helping transform Poland both economically and politically, Kozlowski said. France, by contrast, he said, has long had strong anti-American feelings dating back to Charles De Gaulle.

    "With the French it is hardly something new," he said, "while the Germans should remember that the American army kept the Soviet army at bay and prevented them from experiencing what their eastern neighbor [Poland] experienced."

    Despite the differences of opinion, he said Poland is trying to maintain the best possible relations with France during this time of tension.

    "We would like to forget this period, and let bygones be bygones," he said.

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