Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier set off for Warsaw on Thursday (21 January) on a one-day trip at the invitation of his Polish counterpart Witold Waszczykowski. This was Steinmeier’s first visit to Poland since the new government came to office.
After the talks in the morning with Foreign Minister Waszczykowski, Steinmeier commented: “It is impossible to overestimate the long and difficult road along which Germans and Poles have travelled together to finally transform enmity, alienation and incomprehension into reconciliation, trust and even friendship.” In view of this, Steinmeier spoke of the “incredible good fortune”, which was far too valuable to ever allow it to be used for “short-term political gain”. Remaining engaged in an intense dialogue and exchange – especially when there was need for coordination or the two countries held different views – was precisely what made the German-Polish friendship what it was.
Finding solutions based on European solidarity
The two Foreign Ministers took this opportunity to discuss issues such as the conflict in eastern Ukraine and their shared concern about Europe. They said that in view of current European crises, for instance the financial and economic crisis, Britain or the influx of migrants, it was crucial to find solutions “based on European solidarity”. The two Ministers therefore wanted to remain in close contact with one another. The experience of the last 50 years had shown that “we are stronger when act together than if each country acts alone or does its own thing.”
Visiting good friends
Ahead of the trip, Foreign Minister Steinmeier stressed to the Funke media group and the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza that in Warsaw he would be “visiting friends, good neighbours and close European partners”.
Especially now, a quarter of a century after the lifting of the Iron Curtain and the German‑Polish Treaty on Good‑Neighbourliness, we should look towards the future together, aware of our responsibility and the burdens of history. At a time when the matters to be dealt with are difficult and highly sensitive, it is all the more important never to break off communication and to talk to rather than about one another.
Strengthening the German-Polish network
The other engagements on Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s schedule reflected these good relations: after his meeting with Foreign Minister Waszczykowski, Steinmeier had talks with the new Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and the chairman of the Polish Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Grzegorz Schetyna. Schetyna was Waszczykowski’s predecessor and is currently the sole candidate for the leadership of the liberal-conservative opposition party Civic Platform. Steinmeier also spoke to the Archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz.
Steinmeier rounded off his trip with a visit to the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation. There the Foreign Minister had a discussion with German and Polish pupils and was briefed by Polish intellectuals on current developments in Poland.
25 years of good-neighbourliness
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the German-Polish Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness. Relations between Germany and Poland have never been as close as they are today. Many people take advantage of the opportunities offered by the European single market: they live and work – in some cases over the course of many years – in the respective neighbouring country. German and Polish companies cooperate closely. And Poland has more schoolchildren learning German than any other country in the world. The German Government intends to further intensify this partnership and to further develop these good-neighbourly relations.