BERLIN -- A German lawmaker was quoted on Tuesday as saying U.S. auto giant General Motors' decision to move some production to Poland from Germany may be motivated by Warsaw's support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
General Motors denied the link made by Michael Mueller, deputy parliamentary leader of the ruling Social Democrats, which came as workers at GM's German unit Adam Opel led European protests against plans to cut thousands of jobs at Opel plants in the western German towns of Bochum and Ruesselsheim.
"Our plant in Gliwice in Poland went on stream in 1998 and has been working very efficiently ever since," a GM Europe spokesman said in Zurich.
"Any decision to increase production there or to move production there certainly has nothing to do with Warsaw's decision to get involved in the Iraq war. We do not take business decisions for politically motivated reasons."
Germany was one of the most vocal critics of the war in Iraq, while Poland backed the war and has sent troops to assist in trying to restorer order to the country.
"I am concerned that the transfer of parts of the Opel plant in Bochum is connected to political decisions," Mueller was quoted as saying by German television. "Particularly to Poland, because in my opinion, they are making a payment for Poland's participation in the war," he said.
"I have the impression that in return for arms purchases by the Poles, investments are being made in Poland with American capital. There's a lot of talk about this in many areas. It's only internal speculation but I fear there is something to it."
The remarks were contained in a transcript of comments provided by Germany's ARD television network.
GM DENIES LINK
GM in Detroit was adamant the decision was commercial.
"Absolutely not," said GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti, when asked about the move being related to the Iraq war.
"Germany has among the highest costs, not only in all of Europe, but in all the world," she said, adding: "We're running our business to be competitive. This is all about being competitive,"
GM has about 80 percent of its European costs from Germany, but only derives about 20 percent of its revenues there, she said. "That is not sustainable," she added.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, asked in London if he thought the decision was politically motivated, said: "No, I think this is a company decision, a very serious one."
Opel decided earlier this year to build Zafira compact vans at its plant in the Polish town of Gliwice as well as in Bochum.
The project was linked to Poland's $3.5 billion fighter purchase from Lockheed Martin, under which the company and the U.S. government have committed to about $6.3 billion in reciprocal investment, import deals and technology transfer.