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German FM hopes to renew relations with Poland

Germany must seize a chance to improve ties with Poland under its new premier, Donald Tusk, foreign minister said Wednesday.

"I think that we now have the opportunities and conditions to renew thoroughly the relationship between the two countries, which lately was not the best," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a speech to parliament.

Steinmeier said he has spoken twice with his new Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski, and sees "good political and personal conditions for this to develop very well."

Tusk's pro-European Union Civic Platform party won parliamentary elections on Oct. 21, sweeping the nationalist, conservative Law and Justice party of previous Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski from power.

Under Kaczynski, a staunch nationalist, relations with Germany and the EU cooled sharply.

Ties between Berlin and Warsaw have at times been overshadowed by issues arising from Nazi Germany's brutal occupation of Poland, such as efforts by Germans expelled from postwar Poland to commemorate their fate.

A planned gas pipeline that would link Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland, also has been a persistent irritant in relations.

While those issues may still cause tension, Tusk's arrival in power appears to herald a more conciliatory tone. The new premier has promised to improve ties with the EU, Germany and Russia.

"I believe that we must not fritter away the opportunity that now offers itself - and the opportunity is for us to restore the relationship between Germany and Poland to the level that we had in the 90s," Steinmeier said.

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