Pol­ish lead­ers, na­tion­al­ists will mark in­de­pen­dence to­gether

The Citizens' Voice - - WORLD - BY VANESSA GERA

WARSAW, Poland — The Pol­ish gov­ern­ment and the or­ga­niz­ers of a march put on by na­tion­al­ist groups an­nu­ally for the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence hol­i­day have agreed to hold a joint event in Warsaw Sun­day on the 100th an­niver­sary of Poland’s re­birth as a state.

The an­nounce­ment late Fri­day means Pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda, Prime Min­is­ter Ma­teusz Mo­raw­iecki and other state of­fi­cials will join groups who held a march in Warsaw last year where racist ban­ners and white su­prem­a­cist sym­bols were dis­played.

Michal Dwor­czyk, the head of Mo­raw­iecki’s chan­cellery, tweeted that both sides reached an agree­ment, adding: “Poland won. On Nov. 11 there will be a great com­mu­nal march to cel­e­brate the 100th an­niver­sary of In­de­pen­dence!”

The deal was also an­nounced by the top march or­ga­nizer, Robert Bakiewicz. He is a leader of the Na­tional Radical Camp, which traces its roots to an anti-semitic move­ment of the 1930s.

The de­vel­op­ment un­der­scored how the rul­ing Law and Jus­tice party has at times sought to em­brace the same base that sup­ports far­right groups. It’s a source of con­tro­versy in Poland, where many are fu­ri­ous at how radical na­tion­al­ists came to dom­i­nate the In­de­pen­dence Day hol­i­day.

Duda said he wants the par­tic­i­pants to walk “un­der white-and-red flags, un­der our na­tional colors, un­der the motto of a free and in­de­pen­dent Poland.”

The pres­i­dent told Poland’s Nasz Dzi­en­nik news­pa­per he wants all the par­tic­i­pat­ing groups to leave their in­di­vid­ual em­blems and ban­ners ex­press­ing their par­tic­u­lar point of view be­hind.

Last year’s march in the cap­i­tal was cited in a re­cent Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment res­o­lu­tion that called for mem­ber states to act de­ci­sively against far-right ex­trem­ism. It noted the pres­ence at that march of xeno­pho­bic ban­ners with slo­gans such as “white Europe of broth­erly na­tions,” and flags de­pict­ing the “falanga,” a far-right sym­bol dat­ing to the 1930s.

The an­nounce­ment of the joint march comes af­ter chaotic days of prepa­ra­tions and ne­go­ti­a­tions with the na­tion­al­ist group be­fore the cen­ten­nial of Poland’s in­de­pen­dence, which was re­gained at the end of World War I in 1918 when the three em­pires — Rus­sia, Aus­tria and Ger­many — that had ruled Poland for more than a cen­tury col­lapsed in de­feat.

Duda’s of­fice held talks with march or­ga­niz­ers over sev­eral months in hopes of reach­ing an agree­ment on a joint march. But the talks broke down when the na­tion­al­ists re­fused a de­mand to have no ban­ners.

New talks be­tween state of­fi­cials and the na­tion­al­ists took place Fri­day lead­ing to the an­nounce­ment of an agree­ment.

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