20th Anniversary of the German-Polish Good-Neighbourliness Treaty: Joint Article by Foreign Ministers Sikorski and Westerwelle

21.06.2011 - Interview

Published in the Märkische Oderzeitung and Gazeta Wyborcza

German-Polish relations – the people are the most important factor. The friendships, the youth exchanges, Poland’s great interest in the German language, the numerous binational families, the many young Europeans at home in both cultures – that is what makes up German-Polish relations.

Polish-German connections are also the Poles in Germany and the Germans in Poland. We want the provisions of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, the 20th anniversary of which we are celebrating today, to be fully implemented in regard to both groups. It is also a question of the right to cultivate ones own identity, ones own culture and language. We are confident that the time of minorities being held hostage by big politics or being the object of resentment is over for good. We thus appreciate the work of the Polish-German “Roundtable on questions of promoting the German minority in Poland and people of Polish origin in Germany” and we want the decisions made there to be the foundation for the solution of still unresolved problems.

In addition to the human connections, above all the vigour of our economic ties has proven to be a driving force for bringing our countries together. The volume of trade between our two countries is 14 times what it was 20 years ago. Given these close ties, it is not surprising that the economic mentality of our two countries has become more similar in recent years. This could be seen most clearly during the economic crisis. Poland is considered part of the group of countries with sound economic principles, a group to which Germany also believes itself to belong.

Poland’s upcoming presidency of the EU Council will lead to a further strengthening of the cooperation between our countries on European policy. We are thinking especially of the negotiations on the EU budget for the years 2014-2020 and the European Solidarity Pact. Poland and Germany agree on how the EU’s financial balance can be restored. We also see a wide field of activity for our countries in increasing energy security. Building a truly European energy security policy would help solve the problems of individual member states.

Securing the EU’s external borders without impeding the freedom of movement for EU citizens within the community also fits with the common position held by Poland and Germany. We do not want the right to travel that Europeans enjoy thanks to the Schengen Agreement to be limited. We think the elimination of internal borders within the EU is one of the most conspicuous results of European integration. Of course we must deal with the influx of illegal immigrants, but that cannot be done to the detriment of Europeans’ freedom of movement.

Common interests also connect Poland and Germany in the field of EU policy towards eastern Europe. We both believe that with the project of the Eastern Partnership the EU provides strong stimulus to reform. The upcoming second summit of the Eastern Partnership in Warsaw will provide an opportunity to show how much Poland and Germany can contribute to Europe in the area of politics.

Poland and Germany have the opportunity to build a new relationship free from complexes and based on trust. We are in the position to provide an important stimulus to the European debate. New economic momentum, financial stability, promoting the development of the less developed regions, energy security, the reform of the EU’s common agricultural policy, moving the countries of eastern Europe towards EU standards, the support by the Union of the wave of democratization moving through the Arab world – these are all pillars of our relations in a unifying Europe.

Poland and Germany want to change Europe, not only interpret it. Poland and Germany, as neighbours and partners in the EU we want to promote stability and solidarity in Europe.

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