Ambassador Prof. Dr. Andrzej Przyłębski at Brandenburg’s Diet – Picture by Landtag Brandeburg.
Thursday, 17 June 2021, Postdam, Brandenburg, Germany: With a ceremony in the plenary hall, Brandenburg’s State Diet honoured the signing of the neighbourhood treaty between Germany and Poland 30 years ago.
Speaker Prof. Dr. Ulrike Liedtke said the agreement was “a milestone” in the relations between the two countries and continues to be an important basis for their exchange at all levels as well as for togetherness in Europe. She praised the close German-Polish cooperation in science and research, art and culture, tourism, crime prevention and business. “It is the connections between citizens that make up our contact,” the Landtag Speaker added.
The “Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation” was signed on 17 June 1991 by the heads of government and foreign ministers of both countries. At the same time, the founding of the German-Polish Youth Office was agreed. Ulrike Liedtke paid tribute to the youth exchange: three million young people had already taken part in the programmes, “an incredible, impressive figure!”.
The President of Parliament also recalled the trade union movement Solidarność as well as the Polish May Constitution of 1791 and emphasised: “Separation of powers, rule of law, freedom of opinion and democracy, these are pan-European values today – to the happiness of all of us. They unite us and our peoples. They enable Europe to act together, which is more urgent than ever in so many fields.”
The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Prof. Dr. Andrzej Przyłębski, emphasised the historical significance of the Neighbourhood Treaty, which continues to shape relations today: “It is also an example of how centuries of resentment, even hatred, can be transformed into friendly neighbourliness.” He called for the victims of Poland in the Second World War not to be forgotten. Poles living in Germany should be recognised as a national minority and Polish language teaching should be more strongly promoted, even outside schools.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Neighbourhood Treaty, he said, he wished “that genuine interest in Poland would arise in Germany”, in its history and its system of values. The ambassador expressly praised the plans of several parliamentary groups in the state parliament to anchor friendship with Poland in the Brandenburg constitution. This is also an obligation, he said: “More is demanded of friends than of ordinary acquaintances or neighbours.”
In his speech, the Premier of Brandenburg and Federal Government Coordinator for German-Polish Cooperation, Dr. Dietmar Woidke, said that in the past 30 years both countries had achieved “much more than we had dared to hope”. It was one of the greatest achievements of the then Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl to recognise the Oder-Neisse border in the border treaty with Poland. Before that, Chancellor Willy Brandt had already initiated reconciliation by kneeling in Warsaw.
The head of the Brandenburg government called for “finally creating a central place of remembrance and commemoration where the German crimes against the Polish people are comprehensively presented”. At the same time, he called for looking ahead and further developing relations: “Brandenburg continues to see great opportunities and potential for the future in the German-Polish integration area.” There are so many personal and professional relationships across the border “that have defied many a political irritation”, he emphasised.
The ceremony was accompanied musically by Aleksandra Dzwonkowska-Wawrzyniak (Poland) on the marimba. Afterwards, at the beginning of its 47th plenary session, the Landtag (State Assembly) debated a motion on “30 years of the Neighbourhood Treaty with the Republic of Poland”.
The motion calls on the state government to sustainably develop relations with Poland, to support better transport connections and networking in all areas and to “overcome the dividing lines of the border”.
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