German-Polish Round Table on Eastern Europe
What does Russia’s war against Ukraine mean for German-Polish relations? International experts, academics, journalists and diplomats from Poland and Germany, Ukraine, Belarus and the USA discussed these and other questions at the fifth German-Polish Round Table in Wojnowice.
From 30 November to 1 December 2023, the German-Polish Round Table on Eastern Europe took place for the fifth time at Wojnowice Castle near Wrocław. This year’s central topic was the future of the eastern policy of both countries in view of Russia’s war against Ukraine and its aggressive policy in the region — but also the shaping of German-Polish relations against the backdrop of the change of government in Warsaw.
The College of Eastern Europe (KEW) organised the round table together with the Zentrum Liberale Moderne and the NGO Austausch e. V., with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Warsaw, the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation, and the City of Wrocław.
This year’s round table was also of great importance in view of the change of government in Poland, as it offered an opportunity for a new direction in German-Polish relations, which were in a serious crisis after 2015.
How can Poland and Germany support Ukraine?
On the first day of the conference, Laurynas Vaičiūnas (KEW), Marieluise Beck (Centre for Liberal Modernity), Maciej Matysiak (Former Deputy Chief of Military Counterintelligence Service in Poland), Agnieszka Bryc (University of Nicolaus Copernicus) and Andreas Metz (Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations) discussed how international support and assistance to Ukraine must be structured so that it can win the war — and what joint role Poland and Germany can play in this.
The panellists emphasised that the commitment should not be limited to the expansion of — still inadequate — military aid but must above all include concrete and reliable political, economic and humanitarian support even after the end of the war.
The importance of German-Polish relations for Europe
Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven (Former Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Poland), Marek Całka (Former Ambassador of Poland to Azerbaijan), Irene Hahn-Fuhr (Zentrum Liberale Moderne) and Kai-Olaf Lang (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) discussed the present and future of German-Polish relations on the second panel.
Given the potential and ambitions of both countries, they are of crucial importance for Europe — especially for the Eastern European countries. A significant improvement in relations is therefore in the interests of Poland and Germany, as well as the entire region.
The European security architecture of the future
How can we prevent Russia from continuing its aggressive policy towards its neighbours and create a security architecture in Europe that enables the reconstruction of Ukraine?
The second day of the conference began with a panel discussion on the European security architecture of the post-war period and sustainable peace. With Agnieszka Legucka (Polish Institute of International Affairs), Stephan Bischoff (Policy Advisor to Robin Wagener), Alina Koushyk (United Transitional Cabinet of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya), Barbara von Ow-Freytag (The Prague Civil Society Centre) and Agata Gontarczyk (Heinrich Böll Foundation Warsaw). Another topic was the future of Belarus, which is increasingly subordinate to Moscow.
Integration of Ukraine into the EU and NATO
The conference concluded with a debate with Adam Balcer (KEW), Adam Kobieracki (Former NATO Assistant Secretary General for Operations), Susan Stewart (German Institute for International and Security Affairs), Olha Nykorak (Human Security Programme of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Kyiv) and Iryna Solonenko (Centre for Liberal Modernity) on the integration of Ukraine into NATO and the EU.
They emphasised the importance sustainable military, financial, humanitarian, and political support from Western partners for Kyiv’s integration in both blocs. The major challenges for the integration process as a result of the war, the growing popularity of Western political forces who are sceptical about Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO, as well as the deteriorating mood in Ukrainian society were also discussed. Against this background that EU can best support Ukraine by making sure that Ukraine’s EU accession process enables Ukraine’s integration into the Single Market before the full membership and is accompanied with strong conditionality to incentivise reforms. Experts also noted that it is important to produce narratives, whereby Ukraine is seen as an asset for the EU and NATO.
The following podcasts were produced on November 30 and December 1, 2023, by the KEW at Wojnowice Castle. The editors of “Ukraine verstehen” would like to thank KEW for the permission to republish them.
Andreas Metz, Director for Public Affairs at the German Eastern Business Association
Agnieszka Bryc, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
Iryna Solonenko, Senior Fellow at Zentrum Liberale Moderne
Barbara von Ow-Freytag, Journalist & Political Scientist
Olha Nykorak, Human Security Coordinator at Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
Alina Koushyk, Representative for National Revival in the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus
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