Polish President Andrzej Duda, left, and Archbishop of Warsaw Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz attend the 12th annual Epiphany procession in Warsaw, Poland, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Epiphany, the 12th night of Christmas, marks the day the three kings visited Christ. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish president may boycott Holocaust remembrance in Israel

January 07, 2020 - 6:45 am

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s president is threatening to boycott a ceremony in Israel marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz if he is not allowed to speak before or after Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said Tuesday it was “inadmissible” that Andrzej Duda would not be allowed to speak during the Jan. 22-23 World Holocaust Forum ceremonies at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Putin, invited by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, is to be the key speaker, while it was not clear if Duda would speak at all.

“It is inadmissible, at a conference dedicated to the Holocaust, for Vladimir Putin to be one of the key speakers and for Poland's president not to be able to speak at all,” Jablonski said on Polish Radio.

Duda earlier indicated it was a “necessary condition” for him to be able to speak during the event and present true facts about the start of World War II and Poland's suffering because recently “lies are being said."

Poland is especially concerned by Putin's recent remarks ascribing some blame for the war to Warsaw, which Poland's leaders have protested as untrue. Poland was the first country to be invaded in the war, attacked in September 1939 by Nazi Germany and Soviet troops.

A special council that Duda has called for Tuesday is to discuss his attendance at the event as well as the situation in the Middle East following the killing of Iran's top general by the U.S.

The ceremony in Israel is also to be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and the presidents of Germany, Italy and Austria.

Poland is hosting observances marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz -Birkenau camp by the Soviet Red Army on the precise anniversary, Jan. 27, at the site of the death camp that Nazi Germany operated on occupied Polish soil.

Over 1 million people perished there, mostly Europe's Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Russian prisoners of war and others.

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