German and Polish presidents meet to celebrate 1991 treaty

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Presidents of Germany and Poland met in Warsaw on Thursday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a key treaty between the two neighbors, focusing on the positive aspects of a sometimes shaky relationship.

German Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke with Pole Andrzej Duda and attended a meeting with young people from both countries.

The two neighbors are at odds over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Germany to Russia. Warsaw strongly opposes what it sees as a political tool to increase Russian influence in Europe, while Berlin sees it as a mere business project.

The presidents made no direct reference to the subject at a press conference after their first round of talks.

Steinmeier only said that Germany “takes the criticisms seriously and will do everything possible to reach reasonable solutions”.

He added that the good Polish-German relations were “one of the greatest achievements of Europe in the last 30 years”.

The presidents also discussed ongoing plans for a memorial in Berlin to honor some 3 million Polish victims of the brutal Nazi German occupation of World War II. Poland, which Germany invaded in September 1939 – triggering World War II – lobbied for such a memorial.

Another issue that the two presidents mentioned was the rights of the German minority in Poland and the Polish minority in Germany.

The treaty on good neighborly relations was signed in 1991 – two years after Poland relinquished dominance from Moscow and pledged to forge its independent West-oriented policy.

One of the main goals was to put aside the long history of conflicts and wars between the two countries. Berlin was a strong advocate for Poland’s inclusion in Western structures such as NATO, which it joined in 1999, and the EU, which it joined in 2004.


Geier Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

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