WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland is recalling its new ambassador to Prague after he criticized the country’s approach to a dispute with the Czech Republic over a state-run coal mine.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller wrote on Twitter late Thursday that the ambassador’s remarks were “extremely irresponsible” and that the process was underway for the diplomat’s recall. He said every diplomat should protect Poland’s interests.
In an interview released Thursday by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Ambassador Miroslaw Jasinski said Poland had showed a “lack of empathy, a lack of understanding and a lack of will to open a dialogue” with the Czech Republic.
The Polish lignite mine is located near the Czech border and Czech authorities have said it negatively affects the environment and drains water from local villages.
Months of talks between the Czech and Polish environment ministers have not resolved the dispute despite repeated declarations from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki that an agreement was close.
Jasinski, who became Poland’s ambassador to the Czech Republic last month, chiefly blamed the mine’s management for failing to solve the conflict and allowing it to grow into a government-level dispute.
“Let us be honest and admit that, still, the reason of the dispute was the arrogance of some people,” Jasinski said in his interview with Deutsche Welle.
“First of all from the mine’s management. Then, there is the management of (state-run energy giant) the PGE, and light years from that are the ministries and the prime minister,” Jasinski said.
The mine also has been a source of tension between Poland and the European Union. In October, the European Court of Justice fined Poland 500,000 euros ($600,000) a day for failing to heed its May injunction to close the Turow mine.
In refusing to shut down the vast, open pit mine, Poland’s government has argued it fuels a power plant that generates some 7% of the nation’s energy. Warsaw also is refusing to pay the fine, saying the EU court had no authority to impose it.
The new Czech government aims to phase out coal in energy production by 2033 while increasing the country’s reliance on nuclear and renewable sources.
Poland, which relies on coal for almost 70% of its power generation and some 80,000 jobs, says it needs a slow phase out and has set its target date for 2049.