When Germany and Russia signed an agreement to build a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea, bypassing the usual overland route through Poland, Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski compared it to the Hitler-Stalin pact.
Laying pipe on the floor of the Baltic will cost three times as much as an overland route - and because of 10s of thousands of undetonated artillery shells dumped on the sea bed after WWII it is a dangerous proposition for pipe crews and ferry traffic.
Given Russia's recent attempts to manipulate energy supplies to Europe, Poland's concerns do not appear to be misplaced. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's natioalization of BP and Royal Dutch Shell oil fields and petroleum operations in Russia is foreshadowing "Uncle Joe" strong arm foreign diplomacy tactics to come. Poland gets almost 95% of its natural gas from Russia. After the Baltic pipeline circumvents Poland altogether - look for Putin to extort Poland like he did last year with Ukraine.
On the Eastern front: A German group is suing Poland in EU court for properties given to Poland to compensate Russia and punish Germany after WWII. When the German lawsuit was filed in November, President Lech Kaczynski and twin brother Jaroslaw who serves as PM, said it was necessary to remember "who were the victims and who were perpetrators" during World War II. Clearly, the Poles were victims. Poland was invaded by Germany and Russia. Six million Poles lost their lives in the war, including 3 million Polish Jews killed by the Nazis. 13 Poles were million expelled.
Another substantive sticking point includes Berlin's decision to temporarily restrict Polish workers from entering the German labor market as a condition of Poland's accession to the EU. Warsaw retaliated by placing a temporary ban on property sales to German nationals.
The two neighbors also disagreed on Iraq"The problem with German-Polish relations," according to Kai-Olaf Lang, an analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, "is that the Germans know too little
about the Poles, and the Poles know too much about the Germans."
Even when former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, visiting Warsaw in 2004 for the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, declared that Germany would not support the claims of its citizens against Poland--a position also embraced by Chancellor Angela Merkel--the Poles were not mollified. Lang said he did not believe that the Kaczynskis had deliberately embarked on a collision course with Germany but rather that "they are hyper suspicious of Germany and do not yet have a clear idea of what they want from Europe." Sudetenland be worried?
The twins have threatened to reopen the 1990 treaty that was supposed to have settled all claims arising from the neighbors' unhappy 20th Century. Relations between Germany and Poland have become increasingly strained since the twins came to power in 2005. The poisonous atmosphere threatens to undermine cooperation in other key arenas, including NATO and the European Union.
Victimized Poland ought not roll over. If liberals come to power in Poland it will be 1939 all over again. But, this time a crushing economic war with Poland squeezed in the vise of Russian - German pacts.