German-Polish Ties Should Stay Strong | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 26.01.2002
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German-Polish Ties Should Stay Strong

The development and expansion of German-Polish relations have top priority for Warsaw on its track to EU membership.


Poland's Prime Minister Leszek Miller praising ties with Germany.

Many people in Poland still harbor bad feelings against their western neighbor Germany.

The Nazis' treatment of Poles and Polish Jews during the Second World War is well-documented. And some Poles are still finding it difficult to overcome the countries' shared history.

But Prime Minister Leszek Miller says the days of strained relations are over. "Poland and Germany have shown the world that reconciliation and mutual understanding are possible," he said, speaking at the tenth annual German-Polish Forum in Warsaw on Saturday.

He said cooperations along the border region were exemplary of the neighborly relationship between the two countries.

At the same time, Miller attempted to do away with German fears leading up to Poland's entry into the European Union. The EU was a system in which "everyone wins and no one loses" in cooperating.

But many Germans, for example, fear a sudden influx of cheap labor from Poland once it joins the bloc. Germany is Poland's number one trade partner and investor.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Berlin hoped Poland would belong to the first group of states to enter the EU as part of its eastern expansion. But he said Warsaw still needed to make better efforts to fulfill EU entry criteria.

The EU has named 10 predominantly Central and Eastern European countries they believe are on track to join the bloc by 2004: Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

The body wants to conclude the expansion talks by the end of this year, so that those countries can take part in the European Parliament elections in 2004 as members. But they have made clear the candidates still have a lot of work ahead.

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