Polish ambassador to Prague faces recall over mine row comments

Czech villages near the open-pit lignite mine suffer from water shortages and have called on Poland to solve or halt the mining. [EPA-EFE/Aleksander Kozminski]

Poland’s new ambassador to Prague is to be recalled for criticising his country in comments about a dispute with the Czech Republic over a coal mine, the Polish government said Thursday.

“Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has decided to start the procedure for recalling the Polish Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Extremely irresponsible statements about the Turow mine are not acceptable,” Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller said on Twitter.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Polish Ambassador Miroslaw Jasinski had expressed confidence that an “amicable” solution to the dispute would be found.

But, speaking about the origins of the row, he said it came from “a lack of empathy, a lack of understanding and a lack of willingness to engage in dialogue — above all on the Polish side”.

In September 2021, the European Union’s top court ordered Poland to pay Brussels a daily fine of 500,000 euros for failing to shut the massive coal mine that has angered the neighbouring Czech Republic.

Warsaw was told by the court in May of the same year to suspend extraction of lignite — a low-quality brown coal — at the Turow open-cast mine after a complaint by Prague that it created a cross-border environmental hazard and breached EU law.

But the Polish government refused to comply, arguing it would put the country’s energy security “at-risk” as the mine fuels a power station providing around seven per cent of its electricity.

Both Germany and the Czech Republic have complained about the mine and the planned expansion, which has caused increased noise and dust in the area.

But Poland’s most prominent energy group PGE, which owns both the mine and the plant, plans to extract coal at Turow until 2044.

Poland relies on coal to meet up to 80 per cent of its energy needs but has vowed to develop green energy sources and to shut its last mine by 2049, in line with targets for emissions cuts set by the European Union.

Poland hopes for progress in talks with Czechs over Turow mine

Poland hopes to make progress in negotiations with the new Czech government over the open-pit lignite Turow mine near the border, Poland’s prime minister said on Tuesday, referring to the most serious spat between the two European Union members in decades.

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