Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier received his new Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna at the Federal Foreign Office on 2 October. Steinmeier recalled Poland’s commitment to freedom and solidarity in Europe – despite the fact that crises and the threat of division in Europe are, unfortunately, back on today’s agenda. Both foreign ministers said that they wanted to do their part to continue to promote and improve the excellent German-Polish relations.
Polish Foreign Minister Schetyna’s first trip abroad took him to Paris and Berlin: after his visit to the French capital, Schetyna met Steinmeier on Thursday afternoon (2 October). The German Foreign Minister was pleased that his new counterpart was visiting the Weimar Triangle right at the beginning of his term in office. “This is good for the Weimar Triangle and for German‑Polish relations,” he said.
No German or European unity without Poland
At a joint press conference, Steinmeier said that, in the course of their talks, he and Schetyna had called to mind the former refugees from the GDR who sought refuge at the German Embassy in Prague and Warsaw 25 years ago. The Polish Government had helped to provide adequate accommodation for the refugees, Steinmeier said. He therefore wanted to draw attention again to the fact “that German unity and European unity would not have been possible without Poland”. The German Foreign Minister added:
I want our Polish friends to know that we have not forgotten their commitment to freedom and solidarity in Europe – despite the fact that, 25 years later, other crises and the threat of divisions in Europe are, unfortunately, back on the agenda.
Ukraine and the OSCE the focus of talks
The situation in Ukraine was therefore at the top of the meeting’s agenda. Steinmeier said that both foreign ministers were of the opinion that “the Minsk agreements were a guideline for developments in the coming days”: Above all, the agreed buffer zone in eastern Ukraine must be respected and preparations for effective border controls made, he added.
Steinmeier pointed out that the crisis in Ukraine also demonstrated how urgently the OSCE is needed. While he welcomed the fact that the organisation was now once again playing an important role, he pointed out that:
If the OSCE is to undertake effective work to improve Europe’s security architecture, then the member states must also be prepared to take responsibility. This is why we are not shying away from applying for chairmanship of the OSCE in 2016.
Schetyna agreed with his German counterpart that German‑Polish relations were so good that it would be difficult to improve them – however, he wanted to do his part to continue to promote them. Poland and Germany are engaged in an intensive foreign policy exchange and see many problems from a similar viewpoint, he said. “Our joint German‑Polish voice is hopefully able to make an impact.”
With regard to the 25th anniversary of the departure of GDR refugees from the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague, Schetyna said that Poland and Germany should commemorate this event together and be glad “that the last 25 years were the best years of our shared history”.