BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Wednesday it would not tolerate distortion of historic facts after Russia suggested Poland was partly responsible for starting World War Two and said it would challenge disinformation wherever it occurred.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested last month that Poland shared responsibility for the war because it connived in Nazi German plans in 1938 to dismember Czechoslovakia. The speaker of the Russian parliament has called for Poland to apologise for starting the war.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. The Commission’s role here is to talk about facts,” EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told the European Parliament.
“The European Commission fully rejects any false claims that attempt to distort the history of the Second World War or paint the victims, like Poland, as perpetrators,” she said.
Jourova said it was the pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, signed by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov on Aug. 23, 1939, that paved the way for war.
“The Nazi-Soviet alliance enabled the attack on Poland by Nazi Germany on 1 September, 1939, and subsequently Soviet troops on 17 September. These events marked the beginning of the Second World War – these are the facts,” she said.
“Distortion of historical facts is a threat to our democratic societies and must be challenged wherever possible,” she said.
“Organised and targeted dissemination of distortions and disinformation is something we have to oppose and reject.”
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Gareth Jones