Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement today (17 June) to mark the 30th anniversary of the German‑Polish Treaty on Good‑Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation of 17 June 1991:
Reconciliation and a fresh start with Poland – that is what the German‑Polish Treaty on Good‑Neighbourliness of 17 June 1991 stands for. In the light of our very painful history, we Germans are very grateful to our neighbours and friends for offering an outstretched hand 30 years ago. A gesture which makes us feel humble given the horrific crimes which Germany committed against Poles during the Second World War. Following a period in which German‑Polish relations had been mainly shaped by painful memories of death and destruction at the hands of Germans, the Good‑Neighbourliness Treaty paved the way for a fresh start and a new era as friends in a free and united Europe.
Today, German‑Polish relations are closer and more diverse than ever before: our two countries are committed to a strong and effective Europe which acts as a stable and reliable pillar in the revitalised transatlantic partnership. Most importantly, however, Germans and Poles are living, working and learning across their shared border, thus ensuring that our two countries continue to grow closer in a quite natural way. More than 850,000 Poles live in Germany, while tens of thousands of people commute over the border and thousands of companies have forged close links between our economic areas. And the German‑Polish institutions established with and since the signing of the Treaty, for example the German‑Polish Youth Office, are strengthening mutual understanding and trust, especially among young people.
Relations between people and between states only have a future if they incorporate shared remembrance. Germans have become more aware of the suffering inflicted on Poland’s civilian population during the Second World War, while our perspectives of the painful past have moved closer together. On my trips to Poland, I myself have seen how present the German atrocities are and how little we in Germany still know about some of these crimes, whose wounds have not completely healed in Poland to this very day. It is therefore all the more important that we now set up a forum in Berlin for remembrance and exchange focussing on the Polish victims of the Second World War. As a site for joint remembrance, this forum should also send a message about our shared future. This idea was also anchored in the German‑Polish Friendship Treaty of 1991. Then as now, it is true to say that Poland is an indispensable partner for a united Europe, for ever closer ties between East and West.
The Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on Good‑Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation was signed on 17 June 1991 by Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans‑Dietrich Genscher as well as the Polish Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski. The Treaty contains 38 articles setting out political, economic and cultural goals for this cooperation. At the same time, it regulates bilateral relations between Germany and Poland in the overall European context.
Together with the German‑Polish Border Treaty of 1990 (Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland concerning the Confirmation of the Frontier Existing Between Them of 14 November 1990), the Good‑Neighbourliness Treaty forms the foundation for reconciliation, good‑neighbourliness, partnership and friendship between Germany and Poland following the end of the division of Europe. This provided a basis on which close political, economic, social and cultural relations could be developed on many levels. The Länder and voivodeships, districts and municipalities in Germany and Poland, and within them large sections of civil society, make valuable contributions towards this end with their wide‑ranging commitment.