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Germany and Poland: Bilateral relations

09.12.2021 - Article

German-Polish relations are multifaceted and of extraordinary importance for both sides. Since 1989, these relations have developed a dynamism unparalleled in recent history. The two countries’ close partnership in the European Union and NATO provides a sound basis for the future.

In addition to numerous bilateral political contacts, there are regular German-Polish intergovernmental consultations and annual meetings of the German-Polish Intergovernmental Commission for Regional and Cross-Border Cooperation. In recent years, Federal President Steinmeier as well as former Federal Chancellor Merkel and then Foreign Minister Maas have all visited Poland several times for political consultations and to participate in commemorative events. A highlight this year is the 30th anniversary of the German-Polish Good Neighbourliness Treaty of 17 June 1991, which is being marked by numerous events at all levels.

A deep-seated network of relations between Poland and Germany also exists below national level. Regional and cross-border cooperation, more than 400 town-twinning arrangements, and the partnerships between German Länder and Polish voivodeships also testify to the breadth and closeness of relations between the two countries. Furthermore, Poland has been working closely with Germany and France since 1991 as part of the Weimar Triangle which promotes high-level political contacts as well as trilateral cooperation in the fields of culture and civil society. On the 30th anniversary of its founding, the foreign ministers of the three countries met in Weimar on 10 September 2021.

The two countries’ economies are closely interlinked. For more than two decades, Germany has been Poland’s most important partner for trade and investment. Bilateral trade was worth approximately 123 billion euros in 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, Poland also ranked as the third most important source of German imports for the first time ever.

In Poland, approximately 2 million people are learning German, giving the country the highest number of German-learners worldwide. Measures to support the learning of German are a priority area of German cultural relations policy in Poland.

According to its own estimates, the German minority in Poland numbers between 300,000 and 350,000 people. The census of 2011 put the figure at 148,000 people. The German minority is therefore the largest of the country’s 13 recognised national or ethnic minorities and is represented by one deputy in the Polish parliament. Many members of the minority have both Polish and German citizenship.

There are currently approximately 2 million Poles and people of Polish descent living in Germany, making them the country’s second-largest ethnic group of non-German origin.

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