- The last days are a festival of accusations and misunderstandings in Polish-German relations
- Our western neighbors cannot understand why they were not quickly informed about the contamination of the river
- Polish politicians also criticize the Germans in the case of the Odra river, although we have already got used to such rhetoric from PiS representatives
- One can get the impression that the Oder has only now become a new problem in our relations. However, it is not so
- The problem is quite profound. PiS would like Odra to become an important channel on the map of Europe. And the Germans do not like this vision very much
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The war in Ukraine, ecology, reparations, raw materials … Recently, there have been countless hot spots between Poland and Germany.
Now the Odra has come. German officials and politicians are not very emotional about the situation, but you can see that it is difficult for them to contain their anger.
– Polish-German cooperation apparently did not work out in this situation. Otherwise, we would have received the information sooner – said the German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke. Axel Vogel, head of the Ministry of Environment of Brandenburg also complained about the insufficient flow of information. In the case of his words, translation errors caused a small scandal, and the politician even spoke of his “indignation”.
Polish politicians do not bite the tongue either. For example, Prime Minister Morawiecki considered that “there is no adequate action on the German side” in the case of the Oder. The West Pomeranian voivode, Zbigniew Bogucki, was indignant that the crash site has not yet been chosen by … German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Poland and Germany divided by the Oder
You can say – nothing new. Polish politicians have been attacking the Germans for years. Berlin, on the other hand, may not use emotional language towards Poles, but many of its movements – especially in the context of Ukraine – are completely incomprehensible to Poles.
However, the case of the Odra River has a further bottom. Because Poles and Germans have a completely different view of the river that separates the two borders.
For the Germans, the Oder is a completely provincial river, without much importance for the economy or logistics. Besides, in this country the only river that really matters in this respect is the Rhine. It is on this river that key German chemical and automotive plants as well as refineries are located. Goods from Switzerland, the Netherlands and France also flow along the Rhine. For these reasons, the river is considered absolutely crucial for the German and European economy.
From this point of view, the Oder is only a poor cousin of the Rhine. However, Poles have had great ambitions for the Odra for a long time. The PiS government wants the deepened Oder to become an important transport channel. Meanwhile, the Germans are saying “no” to this.
The rest of the article is available under the video
Germany says: ecology. Poland says: business
“This is a project that we must undertake, we must begin. The construction or reconstruction of the Odra River waterway is certainly extremely important” – said Jarosław Kaczyński a few years ago in Western Pomerania. In his vision, the deepened Odra River would mean that additional millions of tons of cargo would be delivered to the seaports of Szczecin and Świnoujście. Thanks to this, the importance of West Pomeranian ports would increase, but Polish companies could also transport their goods more easily.
German local governments are opposed to this investment and are fighting it in many ways. Officially, they are not concerned with economic matters, but with ecology. Brandenburg authorities reiterate that the dredging of the river will have a “devastating effect on the state of the surface waters” and “may have a significant impact on the species of nesting animals in the Oder region”.
German environmental organizations, supported by the federal states and even by some government representatives in Berlin, began to appeal to the courts for Polish investments on the Odra River. Recently, the Germans have had a lot of success here.
In June, the Provincial Court in Warsaw decided that work on the extension of the Odra River must be suspended, at least temporarily. However, this judgment is not final.
However, work on the Oder (which also includes the construction of flood banks, bridges and dams) has actually been suspended recently – but due to the ecological situation on the Odra River.
See also: European governments are gearing up for an energy crisis. This is how they want to protect citizens
For now, it is difficult to predict how the Polish-German dispute over the Oder will develop. But something has changed. So far, the conflict with the river in the background has been sharp at times, but nevertheless fought far away from the television cameras. Ordinary inhabitants of Poland and Germany generally did not even realize that the Oder was a bone of contention between the two countries. However, this seems to be changing in the light of the ecological disaster.
Author: Mateusz Madejski, journalist at Business Insider Polska