"DAS ZENTRUM EUROPAS VERSCHIEBT SICH NACH OSTEN"
The relationship between Germany and Poland has cooled down considerably. The extent to which this poses a threat to European cohesion was the subject of a panel discussion at PalaisPopulaire. Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven, former ambassador to Poland and a respected expert, talked about the origins of the conflict, the currently most explosive areas of tension, but also traces of reconciliation that give hope for a more harmonious future. Under the title ‘Permanent conflict and alienation? German-Polish relations put to the test’, the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft together with the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe had invited to a public discussion with the former German ambassador in Warsaw.
|In his keynote speech, von Loringhoven reminded the audience that in no neighbouring country does history weigh as heavily as in Poland, because the scale of the atrocities committed there during the Nazi era was unprecedented. However, he also emphasised the many steps towards reconciliation that both countries had taken after the war and especially after 1989, and reported on the gratitude felt in Poland for Germany's support for its eastern neighbour's accession to the EU.|
DIVIDED PERSPECTIVES IN MIGRATION POLICY AND FOREIGN POLICY BURDENDS THE RELATIONSHIP
The former ambassador identified several reasons for the current tense relationship. On the one hand, he mentioned the different positions in the migration debate and the anti-German attitude of the PiS party currently in power in Poland, which comes to the fore especially in election years - as now with the demands for reparations payments. On the other hand, he referred to the different political reactions to the Ukraine war. Even before the war, Poland had criticised Germany's policy towards Russia, and Germany's hesitant attitude at the beginning of the invasion had been another stress factor for the relationship.
IS THE 'ZEITENWENDE' AS WELL A TURNING POINT IN THE GERMAN-POLISH RELATIONSHIP?
|Again and again, von Loringhoven made it clear in the discussion with the audience: there is reason for optimism. Now that Germany has turned the corner, the foundation for constructive political cooperation has been laid. Moreover, Poland is even more important for Europe because of its frontline location. In addition, the relationship had been conflict-ridden in recent years, especially at the governmental level, but economically and socially the two countries were growing ever closer together. There are now 6,000 German companies in Poland and 1,000 Polish companies here. And von Loringhoven said that he had always experienced a feeling of affection for Germany, especially among young Poles. A peaceful German-Polish relationship was extremely important, he said, because in view of the war we needed a strong and united West.|
The large audience of experts, fellows of the Schwarzkopf Foundation and the general public participated lively with questions in the evening moderated by Michel Wicke. Among the guests were many Poles living in Berlin. It was thus noticeable on the spot that German-Polish relations continue to grow on a social level - as also addressed by the former ambassador.
Watch and listen to the keynote by Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven online here.
Pictures: Bernd Brundert/Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft