German-Polish Round Table on Eastern Europe

Fotos: Slawek Przerwa

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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