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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Return of the 'potato wars'?

Mischievous German newspaper die Tageszeitung yesterday tried its best to instigate a repeat of this summer's "potato wars" between Berlin and Warsaw.

In July the paper described the Polish President Lech Kaczynski as Poland's "new potato" on the eve of a Berlin summit between Germany, Poland and France. Kaczynski urged Merkel's government to demand an apology, when they refused, he cancelled the summit, claiming that he had a stomach bug.

The summit was rearranged for today and TAZ decided to finally "welcome" the Polish President by printing two pictures of him next to potatoes on its front page below the headline: "Which one of you is it that's coming again?"

According to Reuters "to liken someone to a potato is seen in Polish culture as rather like calling them a peasant."
Ouch. The whole thing is a symptom of a wider tension between the two countries involving everything from the baltic pipeline between Germany and Russia (which goes around Poland) to feelings of a lack of gratitude on the German side - where they feel like they did more than their fair share to aid Poland after the fall of the wall, and to help it join the EU.

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