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Poland tasks lawmakers with estimating German war reparations

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Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. File photo: DPA
10:42 CEST+02:00
Poland's governing conservatives have set up a parliamentary committee tasked with looking into the extent of World War II reparations they claim is owed by Germany, the new body's head said Friday.

"We want to begin work in the Polish parliament that will result in an analysis of the estimated amount that Germany owes Poland," the committee's presiding lawmaker Arkadiusz Mularczyk told the Polish news agency PAP.

The member of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party added that there is no set date for the committee to produce its results.

The issue of war reparations -- for years considered as settled – was revived in July by PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Warsaw "has the right" to ask for reparations.

But German government spokesman Steffen Seibert responded that the issue had already been settled when "Poland made a binding decision in August 1953... to relinquish demands for further war reparations."

Signed by Warsaw's communist authorities, the 1953 agreement on reparations renounced further claims against Germany.

But the PiS government disputes the validity of the post-war deal, saying it was made under the diktat of the Soviet Union.

Earlier this month the heads of state of Germany and Poland agreed that a "calm discussion" was necessary to address the issue.

Poland's foreign and interior ministers have estimated potential reparations reaching as high as $1 trillion (850 billion euros).

During World War II, Poland suffered the brunt of a two-front attack by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Six million Polish citizens, including three million of Jewish origin, were killed under the Nazi occupation of 1939-45, and Warsaw was virtually razed.

According to a survey published last month, 51 percent of Poles oppose any reparation claims against Germany, while 24 percent are in favour.

Poland's powerful Roman Catholic church warned earlier this month that "poor decisions" by the country's right-wing leaders could "undermine" ties with Germany.

The talk of reparations comes as the PiS government is under fire both at home and abroad over a slew of reforms that critics say erodes democratic standards and the rule of law.

READ ALSO: Germany rejects Polish call for more WWII reparations, as clerics call for calm

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