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Poland president will not attend Holocaust conference in Israel

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L), Polish President Andrzej Duda (C) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chat following a group photo prior to the dinner on the opening evening of the "Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East" on 13 February 2019 in Warsaw, Poland [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]
US Vice President Mike Pence (L), Polish President Andrzej Duda (C) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Warsaw, Poland on 13 February 2019 [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Polish President Andrzej Duda has cancelled his participation in the World Holocaust Forum taking place in Israel, in protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s accusation that the Poles cooperated with Hitler.

According to Gazeta Wyborcza, a daily polish newspaper, the reason for cancelling the visit is that one of the main speakers is Putin, who recently accused Poland of sharing responsibility for the outbreak of World War II and accused it of being anti-Semitic.

The event is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the German Auschwitz concentration camp.

Gazeta Wyborcza reported the head of Duda’s chancellery, Krzysztof Szczerski, as stating: “The scenario in which Putin is the main guest speaker in Yad Vashem gives him the opportunity to continue his offensive and untruthful statements about the course and causes of World War II, and that is unacceptable to us.”

Last week, Putin claimed that Poland had taken “the first step towards genocide” by entering into an agreement with Hitler in 1938. He also called the then-Polish ambassador to Germany, Jozef Lipski, an “anti-Semitic pig”.

Read: Israeli convicted of assault for spitting on Polish envoy

On Sunday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced in a statement that Putin: “Has lied about Poland on numerous occasions, and he has always done it deliberately. This usually happens when Russian authorities feel international pressure related to their activities.”

Meanwhile, another reason cited for cancelling the attendance of the Polish president was that the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, is one of the co-organisers of the forum.

Katz caused outrage last year when he made the remark that: “Poles suckled anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”

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