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''Weimar Triangle'' Turns 15 Without Reason To Celebrate

DW staff (rar)August 29, 2006

Tuesday marks the 15th anniversary of the "Weimar Triangle," an agreement which aimed to bring Germany, France and Poland closer together. But despite the good intentions, conflicts between these nations still remain.

Happier days: Schröder (Germany), Chirac (France) and Kwasniewksi (Poland) in 1999Image: dpa

On Aug. 28 1991, the foreign ministers from Germany, France and Poland met for a joint session in the German city of Weimar to strengthen political ties between these countries and promote European integration. To mark the 15th anniversary of that event on Tuesday, former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and his French and Polish counterparts, Roland Dumas and Krzystof Skubiszewski respectively, will be honored with an award.

But as recent events have proven, the "Weimar Triangle" has not developed as well as its founding fathers might have hoped.

Strengthening EU ties

Grenzpfeiler Polen Deutschland
The Weimar Triangle helped secure acession to the EU for PolandImage: dpa - Fotoreport

When Genscher initiated the ''Weimar Triangle" in 1991, he wanted to extend the close partnership between Germany and France to include neighbouring Poland. With the intention to strengthen European unity, it was hoped that a close alliance with Poland would set the precedent to expand the European Union to the eastern nations.

What was initially envisaged as an annual meeting of foreign ministers was quickly expanded and today includes a combination of ministers from different departments along with state and government leaders.

The goal was to have the three nations, who have fought each other repeatedly in the past, working together to strengthen ties. Political efforts have included joint economic and cultural projects, for example German, French and Polish youth organizations working together.

Ongoing disagreements

The collaboration between the three countries soon benefited Warsaw, with Germany and France pushing for Poland to be admitted into NATO and later into the European Union.

But even before Poland's admission to the EU was ratified, the motivation to sustain the "Weimar Triangle'' began to diminish. The regular meetings of the heads of state were increasingly criticized as being ineffectual. Disagreements on joint projects between the three nations were rarely resolved: For example France and Germany opposed the Iraq war, while Poland, committed soldiers in the US-led invasion. The three countries were also unable to agree on delicate financial matters regarding the EU.

The difficulties arose from the significant inequalities between the states, with Germany and France among the leading nations in Europe while the equally self-assured Poland was, and still is today, forced to take a backseat.

What's the point?

Wahlen in Polen - Lech Kaczynski
Polish President Lech Kaczynski is critical of the Weimar triangleImage: dpa - Bildfunk

The majority of criticisms levelled at "Weimar Triangle" have taken place in private, but the group found itself in the headlines this year. At the beginning of 2006, newly-appointed Polish President Lech Kaczynski provocatively questioned the sense and purpose of this special partnership, which he saw as not beneficial. The current tension between Germany and Poland would have also played a role in putting the alliance under pressure.

For the anniversary summit, held in July with Chancellor Merkel and President Chirac, Kaczynski cancelled at the last minute-- for health reasons. A new date for the meeting has not been set.