In an episode that could potentially strain relations between Warsaw and Washington, Radek Sikorski, an Oxford-educated politician who has lived in the US, was reported to have made the jibe by an opposition politician, Ryszard Czarnecki.
Writing in his blog, Mr Czarnecki, an MEP, quoted the foreign minister as saying: “Have you heard that Obama may have a Polish connection? His grandfather ate a Polish missionary.”
A spokesman for the Polish foreign office conceded that Mr Sikorski had made the controversial comment, but denied that the foreign minister had intended to insult Mr Obama, whose father was Kenyan.
“Mr Sikorski did not tell a racist joke,” said Piotr Paszkowski, the spokesman. “He was only giving an example of the unpalatable and racist ‘jokes’ that surround President Elect Obama.”
Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, has made no comment on the affair. It appears that Mr Sikorski’s position is not under threat despite calls from opposition politicians for an investigation to deter if the foreign minister broke anti-racism laws.
The derogatory comment about Mr Obama’s family may also have become common staple in Polish political circles. Wojciech Olejniczak, the leader of Poland’s main Left-wing party, the SLD, alleged that he first heard it from Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a Right-wing former prime minister and twin brother of the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski.