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Bronisław Geremek The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Weimar Triangle

...the Poles, Germans and French are in an essential way responsible for the development of successful structures of a European community capable of surviving in the future?(1)

The tripartite co-operation among Poland, France, and Germany, which is called the Weimar Triangle, has been underway for the last seven years and encompasses several domains. These include first of all meetings of foreign ministers, as well as ministers of defence and justice, co-operation between parliamentary commissions of foreign affairs and consultations of ministries of foreign affairs at different levels. Soon this co-operation will reach the highest level - in form of meetings of heads of state.

Since the first meeting of the Polish, French and German ministers of foreign affairs we have witnessed the birth of the new and original form of co-operation among these three large European countries. Poland, France, and Germany are situated centrally in Europe on the historical thoroughfare of war, conquests and changing borders. The geopolitical strength of peaceful co-operation in this region plays a key role in building European unity. Geographically, historically, and politically Polish-French-German co-operation within the Weimar Triangle carries significant meaning. It serves as an example of co-operation among neighbours, who have managed to overcome prejudices and terrible burden of history.

France and Germany were prejudiced towards each other due to frequent wars, hostility and deeply rooted suspicion. Only after World War II and thanks to the personal courage and intuition of politicians such as General Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was it possible to make a historical turn in relations between France and Germany.

Today, the French-German co-operation serves as an example of a correct relationship between neighbouring countries for others to follow. This relationship is often referred to as the engine of European integration. It is a component which guarantees peace and security in Europe. It has an innovative and constructive character directed to the future.

For sovereign Poland, which has been able to shape its foreign policy independently since 1989, the co-operation between France and Germany is inspiring. It has encouraged us to improve our bilateral relationships with France and Germany. Consolidation of our relationships with France after Russian domination was not a difficult task. The historical ties between our countries are very strong. In April 1991 France became the first country to sign a Treaty of Friendship and Solidarity with Poland. However, bettering relations between Poland and Germany after 1989 was a much more demanding task. Fortunately, thanks to the good will of both the Polish and the German people and their politicians all age-old prejudices were overcome. New political and legal structures were created, which culminated in the signing of an agreement of friendly co-operation between Poland and Federal Republic of Germany in June 1991.

French-German co-operation also inspired Poland to create new relations with other neighbouring countries and to develop multilateral forms of co-operation in Central Europe.

Nowadays Poland intends to be included - slowly, gradually and pragmatically - in French-German co-operation. We want to see that the zone stretching from the Atlantic to the Oder River embraces our country as well.

The tripartite co-operation among Poland, France and Germany is dominated by such elements as the exchange of ideas and different concepts, high-visibility spectacular meetings and political points of view along with symbolic gestures which are the result of historical experience - elements which still overshadow practical achievements. Nevertheless, the willingness of France and Germany to co-operate with a country from the former Soviet block is final confirmation of overcoming cold-war territorial divisions. This co-operation has the potential of becoming one of the most important instruments for realizing the priorities of Polish foreign policy, that is membership in European Union and NATO. In his speech before the Sejm the new Prime Minister of the Polish government recently called the co-operation of the Weimar Triangle a ?backbone" of the future and expanded European Union.

We intend for the Weimar co-operation to gain significance with every step we take on our way to membership in the European Union. We treat it as the beginning of the road to full membership in the European Union. We would like the Weimar Triangle to make its own contribution to the process of expanding European Union and its further dynamic development. In the future, after Poland? entry into the European Union, this tripartite co-operation among Poland, France, and Germany should serve as a consolidating factor inside the European Union while at the same time preserving special character bounding these three countries.

French and German support for our aspirations serves not only as a helpful tool on the way to full reconciliation of European nations. We would like the Weimar Triangle, which helps Poland get European membership, to initiate the process of integration for other countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

The Weimar Triangle has its own specific cultural, economic and civil dimensions. Creating new forms of tripartite contacts provides the societies of these three countries to get to know about one another. Consequently, friendly relations between different countries play an important role in the process of creating strong ties between countries.

International relations are mainly shaped by relations among people. The success of many projects often depends on personal contacts and the atmosphere in which talks and meetings are held. Good will and friendly attitudes have always accompanied the Weimar process. At the first meeting in Weimar in 1991 were present Krzysztof Skubiszewski, Hans Dietrich Genscher and Roland Dumas. In the subsequent years, the participants have changed, however, a special atmosphere of frankness, trust, and friendliness has remained. I was personally convinced of it during my first Weimar meeting in Frankfurt on the Oder river.

The excellent atmosphere which accompanied my talks with Hubert Védrine and Klaus Kinkel allowed us to look into the future of the Weimar Triangle and the tripartite co-operation among Poland, France and Germany with optimism.

(1) Joint statement made by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Poland, France and Germany, Weimar 29.08.1991.

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