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Stanisław Parzymies

Adviser to the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Interests of Partners in Weimar Cooperation

French, German, and Polish efforts to eliminate the division of Europe, and ultimately to unite it, lies at the heart of Weimar cooperation. Cooperation among these countries may prepare Poland - the largest country in Central Europe - for membership in the European Union, an as a result, will provide hard evidence of having closed the chapter on Yalta in European history. The representatives of three countries have declared a number of times upon different occasions this understanding of Weimar cooperation. Appearing at a special session of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat on 28 April 1995, Władysław Bartoszewski, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: ?Cooperation among Poland, Germany, and France within the Weimar Triangle is an example of the creation of new structures to overcome former divisions and pacts. This particular form of cooperation between European Union countries and a country from the former area of Soviet bloc constitutes a symbol uniting three great European nations. The former zone of great European wars is being transformed into a pillar of security on the Continent (1) .

The next objective of the Weimar Triangle is to cut a path towards Polish-German reconciliation. Polish-German relations have discovered a perfect role model to follow in French-German relations, which, despite tragic historic experiences, have become an example of dynamic co-operation in the interests of both countries and the whole of Europe. By expanding the sphere of stability and friendly co-operation to include Poland, the Weimar Triangle is today a natural extension of French-German reconciliation.

Independent of the aforementioned goals, in which France, Germany and Poland are deeply interested, each of these countries also has individual objectives. The Germans are striving to dispel fears in the West and in the East concerning the nature of its foreign policy towards Central and Eastern Europe and the constancy of their ties to the West since reunification. This means emphasizing that Germany does not wish to conduct its east policy without taking into consideration the stance of the European Union, particularly France. Paris fears that Bonn/Berlin may utilize its post-unification stature to marginalize France?s place in Europe by reastablishing German influences in Central and Eastern Europe. Right after the re-uniting of Germany the traditional Gaullists and the communist left emphasized that the Federal Republic?s Ostpolitic was a symptom of how Germany is gradually pulling away from the European Communities, building its independent power and thereby posing a threat to France. The cooperation between France and Poland, two of Germany?s neighbors, with whom Germany has had the most conflict-ridden relations throughout history, constitutes perfect proof of how much weight all three attach to European ideals.

France, which does not have the same opportunities to act as Germany, especially in economic terms, has tried to balance German activity in Central and Eastern Europe, at least partially through its participation in the Weimar Triangle. The socialists and guallists who were in power at the time and who were centered around Jacques Chirac, along with the other center to right parties which are currently in power, believed that it is impossible to catch up with the Germans in Central and Eastern Europe; that is why they put forward the viewpoint that the actions taken by Germany and France in this part of Europe should not be treated as competition but as cooperation and a division of roles. ?France and Germany supplement one another; they are not competing with one another", - said Jacques Chirac in July 1991 during a trip to eastern Germany.(2) By jointly conducting politics in Central and Eastern Europe France appears be treating tripartite French-German-Polish meetings as an instrument for exercising an influence on German foreign policy. This is also a plane for France to play down the conflicts between ?deepening" and ?expanding" European integration.

Central and Eastern Europe is not a priority area for France. As the German historian Rudolf von Thadden wrote on 26 November 1991 in ?Le Monde". In contrast to Germany, France, especially its entrepreneurs, has shown a lack of interest in true involvement in Central Europe, since Africa is more important to France".

Besides the lack of sufficient means and the inability to meet the expectations of these countries, the uncertain political, economic, social, and ethnic circumstances in the countries in this part of the continent have discouraged France from getting more seriously involved in Central and Eastern Europe. Another discouraging factor has been the lack of approval for France?s proposals for cooperation such as in the idea for a European Confederation. The French initiative for a Stability Pact in Europe directed at Central and Eastern Europe was a successful attempt to alter this attitude.

For Poland, Weimar cooperation is a perfect means to strengthen its position in Europe and since the inception of the Weimar Triangle, build a bridge to West European and Transatlantic structures. Poland has been counting on the meetings at various levels within Triangle to promote its entry into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and facilitate adaptation French-German relations as a model for cooperation with Germany. It was also possible to hope that Poland, with to its unique familiarity with Central and Eastern Europe, will be able to influence the Ostpolitik of both its partners in region. As Adam Krzemiński rightly wrote ?This triangle is not directed against anyone, but it may be the seed for a small Europe in the center of our continent, which - in the event that Poland becomes economically and civilizationally strengthened - would be a stable lever for the entire structure not only towards the West, as up until now,, but also to the East.(3)

St. Parzymies, Unia Europejska a Europa Środkowa. Polityczne aspekty współpracy , in: Trójkąt Weimarski a zbliżenie Polski do UE . Polska Fundacja Spraw Międzynarodowych, Warszawa 1997, p. 140?142

(1) Speech made by Władysław Bartoszewski, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Poland at a special session of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat on 28 April 1995 in Bonn. ?Collection of Documents", 1995 Number 2 (being printed).

(2) ?Le Figaro", 6?7 July 1991.

(3) ?Polityka", 3 July 1993.

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