February 7, 2018 / 12:04 PM / 16 days ago

France says Poles should look beyond "nationalist choices"

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday Poland should not be “rewriting history” after its president signed a contested Holocaust bill into law and said he hoped the Polish people would pick a new path in their next elections.

The legislation imposes jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust and despite protests from Israel and the United States, Poland’s right-wing government has defended it saying it is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression.

Israel says the law would ban true statements about the role that some Poles played in Nazi crimes.

“We find this law unwelcome, we must not rewrite history, it’s never very good,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV.

Frosty even under the previous French administration, bilateral relations between the two NATO allies reached a new low in August when French President Emmanuel Macron said the Polish people deserved better leaders and he shunned Poland during an eastern Europe tour.

“I think that the moral pressure will be strong enough, I hope so anyway,” Le Drian said. “I also hope that the Polish people will be able to change their minds and make sure that in the next (elections) they will get out of this straitjacket imposed on them by nationalist choices that are quite regrettable,” he said.

Reporting by John Irish and Sophie Louet; editing by Michel Rose

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