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02 lipiec 2018

The Future of Polish-German Diplomatic Relations

Germany is considered as the most important political and economic partner of Poland. Bilateral relations between these two countries are in a good shape, in spite of some moot points and areas of disagreement. Especially worrying are the tendencies visible not only in Germany, but in the whole Europe, i.e. gaining more and more popularity and support by the political parties and movements, which program is based on radicalism, populism and extreme right-wing ideology, often classified as nationalism[1]. In the perspective of the next 10 years it may lead to difficulties in dialogue, what in the worst scenario may turn into a diplomatic crisis caused by the lack of the common ground, which are democratic values.  

In the last German federal election held on 24 September 2017, the right-wing party AfD[2] made a significant success. Important to realize is that this is the first right-wing party since the World War II, which made it to the Bundestag[3]. AfD does not belong to the coalition in power created by CDU/CSU[4] and SPD[5], however its presence in the parliament will have an unquestionable influence on Germany’s foreign policy, without excluding an aggravation of tension between Germany and Poland, which may be caused i.a. by AfD’s positive attitude towards the Russian president Vladimir Putin and direct contacts that AfD leadership developed with powerful figures in Moscow. Consequently, among the AfD’s core pledges on foreign policy is to lift German sanctions on Russia and seek warmer relations with Putin[6].

 

The greatest challenge for Poland and Germany are different visions of the future of the European integration. Poland is against a two-speed Europe and does not approve of the solution supported by Germany and France, i.e. creation of a common budget for the Euro area under the authority of a so-called eurozone finance minister. PiS[7], Poland’s ruling party, worries that in a Europe of “concentric circles” the dominant Euro area countries will treat those on the outer tiers as second-class citizens[8].

 

In the bilateral relations, one of the most serious issues are demands of the Polish government concerning the post-World War II reparations[9]. Germany has firmly rejected Poland's claims, pointing to a 1953 decision by the country's then communist regime to relinquish demands for compensation[10]. A diplomatic offensive of Poland on that note might result in an adverse effect., i.e. a strong opposition of Germany, especially among the right and nationalist parties, which in the light of such events may grow even stronger.

 

Given these points, during the following 10 years the political relations between Poland and Germany may get worse, if the two states will remain stubborn without willing to find a compromise, which unfortunately may not satisfy the two sides of the conflict. First thing to remember is that a give-and-take approach is essential, if they want to maintain proper diplomatic relations in the next decade. Both Poland and Germany act in the international environment with emphasis on the European Union, which future actions and stability is conditioned on good collaboration between the member states. All interactions should be considered in a broader context because of their undeniable impact on the cohesion and smooth functioning of the European Union.

 

Żaneta Dela, MA

 

[1] How the Populist Right Is Redrawing the Map of Europe – Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-europe-populist-right (25-06-2018)

[2] Alternative for Germany (German: Alternative für Deutschland, AfD).

[3] What the Far Right’s Rise May Mean for Germany’s Future  - The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/26/world/europe/germany-far-right-election.html (25-06-2018)

[4] CDU/CSU, unofficially the Union parties (German: Unionsparteien) or Union, is the Christian democratic political alliance of two political parties in Germany, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU).

[5] The Social Democratic Party of Germany (German: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD).

[6] German Elections 2017: How Russia Helped AfD’s Rise – Time http://time.com/4955503/germany-elections-2017-far-right-russia-angela-merkel (25-06-2018)

[7] Law and Justice (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS).

[8] 5 fronts in the coming eurozone battle – POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/emmanuel-macron-angela-merkel-eurozone-france-germany-5-fronts-in-the-coming-eurozone-battle (25-06-2018)

[9] Polish lawmaker: due reparations from Germany could stand at $850 billion  - Reuters https://www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-germany-reparations/polish-lawmaker-due-reparations-from-germany-could-stand-at-850-billion-idUSKCN1GE1NC (25-06-2018)

[10] Poland seeks to calm row with Germany over WWII war reparations – The Local  https://www.thelocal.de/20180117/poland-seeks-to-calm-row-with-germany-over-wwii-war-reparations (25-06-2018)