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Poland and Norway expel envoys as diplomatic rift deepens

Warsaw, Poland – The Foreign Ministry of Norway announced on Monday that it will expel a Polish diplomat after Polish authorities refused to recall him. In a tit-for-tat exchange, Warsaw said that it would also expel a Norwegian diplomat established in the country, in a sign of growing tensions between the two European countries.

Norwegian authorities claim that they received numerous complaints regarding the work and behavior of the envoy in question, Polish consul Slawomir Kowalski, who allegedly obstructed the work of local authorities in disputing decisions by Norwegian child protection services for Polish families.

Polish Deputy Foreign Ministry angrily reacted to the new of the expulsion, calling it “an extremely unjustified decision” on Twitter and adding that a Norway envoy had been declared persona non grata in Poland in response. Authorities in Oslo called this reaction “unreasonable” and “disappointing” and stated that they haven’t “received any complaints regarding the behavior of Norwegian diplomats in Poland”.

The Polish Foreign Ministry stated that it was completely “satisfied with Consul Slawomir Kowalski’s work, especially with regard to his commitment to defending the interests of Polish families”.

Slawomir Kowalski was first dismissed from his diplomatic role in mid-January by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, citing “allegations of threatening and at times violent behavior towards public officials” and that “he has also refused to comply with police orders”.

The controversy arose amid accusation of misconduct from the Polish consul in his relations toward Norway’s child welfare service, known as Barnevernet. But as Euronews points out, Barnevernet is a controversial institution in Norway and “has long been criticized for being quick to remove a child from its family, with some going as far as to accuse the system of ‘kidnapping’ children”. Several such cases have already reached the European Court of Human Rights.

Poles represent the largest immigrant group in Norway and are estimated at nearly 100.000 in 2018, in the Scandinavian country of 5.3 million people. As Reuters reminds, economic bilateral ties are also strong between the two countries, with Poland being the main export market for Norwegian seafood “and an important buyer of Norwegian defense-related products”.

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