ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE
AUGUST 11, 2021
We are deeply concerned that Poland’s parliament passed legislation today severely restricting the process for Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish property owners, to obtain restitution for property wrongfully confiscated during Poland’s communist era. We urge that President Duda not sign the bill into law or that, in line with the authority granted to him as President, he refer the bill to Poland’s constitutional tribunal. A comprehensive law for resolving confiscated property claims is needed to provide some measure of justice for victims. Such a law would benefit many Polish citizens, as well as people who were forced to leave Poland during and after World War II and who subsequently became naturalized citizens of other countries. Until such a law is enacted, the pathway to compensation should not be closed for new claims or those pending decisions in administrative courts.
The United States is also deeply troubled by draft legislation passed today by the lower house of the Polish parliament that targets the most watched independent news station, which is also one of the largest U.S. investments in the country. Poland has worked for decades to foster a vibrant and free media. This draft legislation would significantly weaken the media environment the Polish people have worked so long to build. A free and independent media makes our democracies stronger, the Transatlantic Alliance more resilient, and is fundamental to the bilateral relationship. Large U.S. commercial investments in Poland tie our prosperity together and enhance our collective security. This draft legislation threatens media freedom and could undermine Poland’s strong investment climate.
Poland is an important NATO Ally that understands the Transatlantic Alliance is based on mutual commitments to shared democratic values and prosperity. These pieces of legislation run counter to the principles and values for which modern, democratic nations stand. We urge the government of Poland to demonstrate its commitment to these shared principles not only in words, but also in deeds.