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Poland, Germany, Denmark Join Forces

September 18, 1999

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Poland, Denmark and Germany on Saturday inaugurated a three-nation military corps to take part in NATO peacekeeping and rescue missions.

At a ceremony in the Baltic port of Szczecin, Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski hailed the force as ``proof of the burying of historical divisions″ after the Cold War.

He said it was of ``great importance for Poland and for NATO.″

A day after Poles commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion during World War II, the inauguration of the new Szczecin-based corps pointed to Poland’s future.

The three nations agreed to set up the corps last September. In March, Poland and two other former East Bloc foes of NATO _ Hungary and the Czech Republic _ joined the western military alliance.

Kwasniewski said Polish-German relations were at their historical best, 60 years after Nazi Germany touched off World War II by invading Poland.

He handed the unit’s banner to Danish Lt. Gen. Henrik Hovard Ekman, the first to take the unit’s rotating command.

Each country’s defense minister also attended the rain-swept ceremony, which included a military parade.

The new unit consists of three tank divisions with about 140 officers stationed in Szczecin.

Controlled by a three-nation committee, the corps will remain outside NATO command structure but can be assigned to join alliance operations. It also will be available for peacekeeping, humanitarian operations and rescue missions.

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