Polish Senate cancels visit by head of German Bundesrat after controversy over Russia ties

Poland’s Senate has cancelled a planned visit by the head of the German Bundesrat, Manuela Schwesig, after it caused controversy due to her previous links with Russia and support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

Earlier this month, Schwesig announced that she had been invited by Małgorzata Kidawa-Błoński, the speaker of the Polish Senate, for an official visit.

“I am very happy to accept this invitation,” she said, quoted by the Polish Press Agency (PAP). “I am very glad that the people of Poland have decided on a pro-European government.”

Szefowa Bundesratu Manuela Schwesig odwiedzi Polskę#PAPInformacjehttps://t.co/VLiTn8icIe

— PAP (@PAPinformacje) January 5, 2024

Kidawa-Błoński is a deputy leader of Civic Platform (PO), the main party in a pro-EU coalition government that took power last month, replacing the more eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) administration.

Earlier this week, Polish news website Energetyka24 reported that it officially established that Schwesig’s visit to Warsaw would take place between 20 and 23 February.

Confirmation of her visit caused controversy given her previous ties with Russia. Schwesig was a vocal supporter of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring Russian gas to Germany. The project was strongly opposed by Poland and Ukraine.

A very German scandal?
In today’s Times I covered a once-rising star of the SPD. A young woman from the east, she is now First Minister of Merkel’s home state. But recent revelations show she „turned her office into a branch of Gazprom”https://t.co/lz0MIDPQ1m

— James Jackson (@derJamesJackson) April 18, 2022

She has also been found to have had a number of other ties with Russia and its state energy firm Gazprom. Politico Europe last year named Schwesig as one of “12 Germans who got played by Putin”.

“Senate Speaker Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska has invited Manuela Schwesig, the godmother of Nord Stream 2, to Poland,” said Kacper Płażyński, a PiS MP. His party has long claimed that PO and its leader Donald Tusk represent Germany and Russian interests.

“Who’s next? [Gerhard] Schröder,” he said, referring to the former German chancellor known for lobbying on behalf of Russia. “Or maybe just Putin himself? Unbelievable.”

Marszałek Senatu Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska zaprosiła do Polski Manuelę Schwesig, matkę chrzestną Nord Stream 2. Kto następny? Schroeder? A może po prostu sam Putin? Niebywałe. https://t.co/jXG9AgjxTE pic.twitter.com/MDgwbz9j4Z

— Kacper Płażyński (@KacperPlazynski) January 12, 2024

On Wednesday, the Polish editorial team of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle learned that Schwesig’s visit has been cancelled following the controversy.

The Senate press office told Deutsche Welle that February’s visit had been called off. A German diplomatic source also unofficially confirmed the news to the broadcaster.

‼️ News polskiej redakcji Deutsche Welle @dw_polski: Polski Senat odwołuje zaproszenie przewodniczącej Bundesratu Manueli Schwesig (SPD) do Polski. Wizyty w lutym nie będzie. W tle protesty polskiej opozycji z powodu prorosyjskiego kursu Schwesig. https://t.co/LeZKUGsZxq

— Łukasz Grajewski (@lukaszgrajewski) January 17, 2024

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Main image credit: Olaf Kosinsky / Wikimedia (under CC BY-SA 3.0 DE DEED)

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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