25 years of German-Polish Neighbourship
Exactly 25 years ago German chancellor Helmut Kohl and Polish prime minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki signed the Polish-German Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation, ushering in a historic process of reconciliation. How good are the relations between the two countries now?
Millions of people enjoy neighbourly relations
Despite the tense relations, Poles and Germans have been living peacefully side by side for the past 25 years, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes on the anniversary of the Polish-German Treaty of Good Neighbourship:
“Unlike in preceding decades, Poland no longer need fear Germany. The Poles and Germans even cooperate militarily. ... And millions of Poles and Germans enjoy far closer, more friendly relations than the resentment expressed by [PiS chairman] Kaczyński and his contingent would lead one to believe. Millions of people in Germany and Poland visit each other and live and work and go sightseeing in each other's country. ... Yes, the very sensitive relations between Germany and Poland need to be nurtured - in the best case in mutual encounters, which are even more important in times of crisis than at other times in the past. Because these neighbourly relations have enough vitality to withstand phases of political tension.”
Growing strife in recent times
After 25 good years German-Polish relations are once again on the rocks, Gazeta Wyborcza laments:
“Overall German-Polish relations have been excellent over the past 25 years, but they have become strained in the last six months. ... At present the opinions in Berlin and Warsaw diverge as to how to deal with the refugee crisis. Poland simply doesn't want to take in any refugees - although Berlin is piling on the pressure. In addition, many Germans see what the PiS is doing with the Constitutional Tribunal as unacceptable, because in their view it represents the first step towards a dictatorship. ... [President] Duda explained yesterday that we want to build a joint Europe. But the biggest problem is precisely that our opinions on this differ substantially. Berlin wants to save Europe while Warsaw doesn't really see the point.”