Charge d'affairs at the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Poland, UN Office, Geneve
A Common Calling on the Path to European Unity
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".
These words which became historic at the moment of their utterance, are from a speech by Władysław Bartoszewski to a special session of the both houses of the German parliament and contain special meaning. That Bartoszewski had become head of the diplomatic corps right before the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II created the basis for moving from normalization to reconciliation in Polish-German relations. This in turn is a pre-requisite for realizing the full potential embodied in cooperation among these three countries.
Naturally, the Weimar cooperation, which was initiated in Weimar at a August 1991 meeting in of the Foreign Ministers: R. Dumas, H. D. Genscher and K. Skubiszewski, already has one phase behind it. Its scope incorporates the cooperation of the diplomatic corps of three countries, the ministries of defense (including the first joint exercises), meetings among parliamentarians, as well as joint endeavors in youth, cultural, and research cooperation. Let us also call that in September 1993 a meeting was held in Gdańsk among the presidents of these three countries. At the same time, it seems that new impulses are needed to maintain the momentum of this cooperation. They must result from a conviction that the Weimar triangle formula may be something much more than assistance provided by France and Germany in our longing to join western institutions. Both Poland and its partners should perceive this formula as an opportunity for our countries to co-operate in the difficult process of reconciliation and integration in Europe which has been divided up until 1989. The following, succinct 10 point argument is an attempt to justify this initial premise.
10 Theses on Unity
First, the French-German reconciliation and the Paris-Bonn axis, the formal expression of which was the Ellysée Treaty signed in January 1963 (a piece of work of two outstanding statesmen - de Gaulle and Adenauer), became the foundation for post-war unity in Western Europe. Moreover, this was first a reason and then a basis and finally a engine for western European integration running through the European Communities. This hypothesis does not need to be proven nor to be expanded upon.
Second, along with the great change induced by the Eastern European Spring of Nations in 1989, Europe was faced with a great opportunity for reunification. This may occur only on the basis of western European institutions, primarily the European Union and Western European Union (and NATO). It is true that before 1989, East European Countries were restricted by the ?iron curtain", but it is certain that if it were not, some countries of Central Europe would have taken part in the European integration processes from the very beginning.
Third, in these new circumstances, cooperation between Paris and Bonn (Berlin in the near future) will remain for some time the pillar of the western European core for the wider European structure which the European Union is slowly becoming. It does not appear however that this axis is capable of leveraging the entire integration process and its institutional architecture. In this context, French fears about the excessive independence of Germany on the European scene and the more and more frequent differences of opinion between the foreign policies of these two countries may not be ignored in this context. On the other hand, there is a need for France?s deeper involvement in Central and Eastern European matters, especially as the European Union opens itself to our region.
The French-German duet, if it is to maintain its role in European relations in the coming years, should seek support from another country. Naturally, Paris and Bonn may not want to seek out such support. In that case, however, the role of this axis will diminish significantly, which will most likely weaken the ties between these two capital cities. It is impossible to rule out the likelihood of attempts to create a new constellation of countries by disregarding France or Germany - which could play a role similar to the one played heretofore by the Paris-German Axis. There are such concepts.
At the same time, it seems logical that the country which joins in French and German cooperation should be an Central Europe country, one of the latecomers, a representative of the future EU and UZE members, but one which is already an associate member. It seems logical, as Tadeusz Mazowiecki points out, that both parts of Europe should be combined or united during the process of opening up the European Union instead of merely connecting the Central and Eastern European countries to international institutions in Western Europe.
Fifth, on account of its geographical location, its significance for European security and its overall potential (economic, too) Poland seems to be the most natural candidate as a partner for France and Germany in their mutual effort to promote towards European integration. Poland is the largest country of the newcomers to the Union, including those countries which joined the European Union on 1 January 1995. In the foreseeable future, there will not be any country - candidate for membership in the European Union that is larger than Poland. Our country lies along the extension of the Paris-Berlin Axis. This extended axis is, historically speaking, the main geo-strategic axis for Europe, or, in other words, the main European thoroughfare. Who would have ever thought Poland would be the missing link in constructing a greater European structure? Without Poland and the other countries in Central Europe, this will be an incomplete structure.
Sixth, France and Germany should give Poland greater responsibility in the unity process allow it to play a wider European role. This is not an easy task. Even at present, Poland?s size relative to its lack of development is seen in Brussels as a problem in the process for expanding the Union into Central Europe. This is true, but the stake in this game - if one may use this term - is not only Poland, the stake is European unity. French-German investment in Poland would be an investment in Europe in a greater sense, that means creating another kind of Fortress Europa within EU borders.
For this reason Poland is a very good candidate for this partnership. In our part of Europe our country has done its European homework very well, if not perfectly. We have signed treaties with all of our neighbors in order to create the grounds for good relations and in order to govern border and ethnic minority issues. This task was much more difficult for us than other countries as the number of our neighbors has almost overnight doubled from three to seven. With some, we have grave problems that were left to us by history, problems we did not cause. We achieved this long before the so-called Balladur plan appeared, i.e. the project for the pact on stability and security in Europe. Our western European partners do not always wish to take note of this fact as they willingly emphasize the tensions in our surroundings and classify Central and Eastern Europe as a zone of instability and danger as a result of border problems and nationalism.
The Weimar Triangle is the best instrument for involving Poland in accepting European responsibility. The tendencies to retain the exclusive nature of cooperation between Paris and Bonn are understandable, but in this case, both capitals should peer into the future and consider their particular role in cooperation to date. The idea is not to interfere with this cooperation or to loosen it up but rather to make use of its experience and this particular model and create the form of tripartite cooperation outlined above.
Seventh, the historical opportunity that faces Poland should not be wasted This is another reason why we should take on the task under discussion. I am looking at the external and the internal context, but especially the circumstances to the East of our borders. In the latter case, I am thinking out what Jacek Poprzeczko wrote in November 1994 for the magazine ?Polityka". In his opinion, there is not a lack of advocates for the following solution in Poland: ?Russia and signing an alliance with her should be our priority, while relations with the West should be a derivative thereof." If that is in fact the case, this is all the more reason to utilize the Weimar Triangle formula to anchor Poland in the European integration process before we become a full member of the European Union. The irreversible involvement of Poland in this structure is a strategic priority of Poland?s politics, to which all other courses of action and aspects should be subordinated. This would put an end to the strange debates about a jurisdiction, coordination, as well as contacts at the highest level in Polish foreign policy, all of which we have witnessed over the last few months.
Eighth, the question arises concerning Russia and the other countries in the post-Soviet space. I believe that it is increasingly evident that the CIS area is becoming a separate entirety - in terms of politics, economics and security. This integration process is separate from the integration processes going on in the European Union. The number and nature of agreements signed within the CIS and politics within Russia itself demonstrates this. Recently, substantial work has appeared (including important theoretical proposals from Samuel Huntington and K. Zernack) which make numerous grave arguments substantiating these tendencies. In light of this, one may assume that insofar as Poland and other Central European countries may become a part of European integration, the post-Soviet countries - with the exception of the Baltic states - will not take a part in European in the foreseeable future.
Ninth, while Poland and other Central European countries should move as quickly as possible into the evolving institutional structure of the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance, it is possible and necessary to develop wide cooperation with Russia and other CIS countries. The model for this process arises naturally: integration of Central European countries within the Union and cooperation with Russia and other CIS countries. There are, and cannot be, any conflicts between these two processes which may be develop in parallel. At this point one may refer to an analogy pertaining to the close cooperation between the countries of the Union and the USA. No one suggests that the United States should integrate with the Union?s structures, even though there are considerable differences between Russia and the Unites States from a Western European point of view. In this substantial issue, the stance taken by France and Germany should be unambiguous, both in respect to the principle itself (expansion of European Union and NATO) and in respect to the pace of integration.
Tenth, Poland, in cooperating closely with France and Germany and thereby becoming an entity in the European integration process, may render great services in cooperation with the Union in favor of our Eastern neighbors. This may occur thanks to our familiarity with this area and extensive activity of our Eastern policy. The difficulties in executing this policy arise, in some degree from the temptation still felt in Moscow either to ignore or simply humiliate Poland, which is perceived by Russia as alone or as insufficiently wanted in the West. Again, the Weimar Triangle has a role to play that goes far beyond the tripartite cooperation among France, Germany, and Poland. The conclusions that may be drawn from the discussion above are manifest: Weimar cooperation should be strengthened on a constant and systematic basis. This is a part of the European calling of our three nations.
Getting Three to Want the Same at the Same Time
These reasons or the well-founded conviction on the need to strengthen the Weimar Triangle?s European role does not mean that our expectations will come to embody true European politics. In this case, we may recall the saying that the greatest embarrassment is trying to get three to want the same thing at the same time. Poland?s strong point in the person of minister Władysław Bartoszewski, who can make the qualitative leap in the emotional and conceptual layers of Polish-German relations, should be perceived by the strategically-thinking French political elite. The political and economic implications of making Berlin the capital city of Germany once again should help France come around to such a view as Berlin is much closer to Warsaw and other capitals in Central Europe than to Paris.
Warsaw may compensate for the asymmetry of potential in the Weimar Triangle through its political activity in Central and Eastern Europe. There is an extensive reservoir of opportunity that may be used in conjunction with the political stability and the economic growth that our country possesses. In fact, it was Paris?s diplomatic activity that made France an equal partner in relations with Bonn. A strategic approach to foreign policy requiring a commitment of material resources, is needed here just as in the case of France.
Finally, we have perhaps the most difficult issue. Our partners in the Weimar Triangle must know that Poland is trying to realize more than its own particular interests, no matter how well-justified, when it emphasizes tripartite cooperation. The calling of Poland?s European policy - is to become a growing part of European politics. That Europe should be the kind of Europe which it is becoming through the development of institutions created and directed from Paris, Bonn, and Brussels. Warsaw should be a part of this concert.
?Tygodnik Powszechny", No 21, 25 May 1995