Baerbock in Poland: mixed feelings

Status: 10.12.2021 04:40 a.m.

Far away because of the rule of law and the climate, but also close because of the stance on Russia: Poland is still looking for a stance on the new German Foreign Minister Baerbock and on the federal government as a whole.

By Jan Pallokat, ARD Studio Warsaw

Last weekend, PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski invited right-wing conservative and right-wing extremist politicians from all over Europe to the strategy summit in Warsaw. In addition to Viktor Orban, the French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen also came.

Jan Pallokat
ARD studio Warsaw

In preparation, Kaczynski had studied the Berlin Ampel coalition agreement and mentally warned his brothers and sisters of troubled times. Above all, a passage in favor of the development of the EU into a federal state made waves on the Vistula – which sounds like an alternative to the Europe of sovereign fatherlands and limited Brussels competencies, as Kaczynski prefers. He explained:

Firstly, it is important that this proposal was formulated by Germans. Because that means turning away from the historical memories of the 20th century, which for a long time ensured a certain sensitivity and self-restraint when it comes to German activities and ambition. Now it is over. And secondly, the question of leadership is raised there, German leadership, which should result from the responsibility and size of the German nation, a Europe of certain hierarchies. We are dealing with ‘new’ Germans here, not those who have shaped the last few decades and built democratic Germany. We believe that this is not good news for Europe and the future of the EU.

Poland’s worried view over the border

Not only new in terms of personnel, but possibly completely different: Annalena Baerbock and two days later Olaf Scholz await scrutinizing, perhaps also a little anxious looks in Warsaw. Because what worked under Merkel was what may no longer work: Raise the mood against Germany for the domestic electorate, for example via Polish television that is close to the government, and then in the end meet a chancellor who is almost always willing to compromise and who, until the end, also supports dialogue on the rule of law advertised.

This patience could now come to an end, the Onet portal commentator warned his compatriots. A federal government with a stronger population of West Germans and a foreign minister born 40 years after the war might and may show less consideration than ex-Chancellor Merkel, who is affectionate with Poland, with her biography of the East.

“Our vision is pretty clear”

On the other hand, one naturally wonders in Warsaw how much of what is written on it is actually politically in the end – and whether a federalized EU will really see the light of day. Vice-Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said these days on TVP:

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to our German partners about it and to show how much our ideas differ. I was assured that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s vision is not strictly federal, but that it is about integration in certain areas and that national competencies should be retained in other areas. We’ll be happy to familiarize ourselves with his vision and see where it differs from ours, because ours is pretty clear.

That Scholz, as the moderate head of the government, will have a moderating effect on the wings is a hope that is currently making the rounds in Warsaw. And: Even the Greens and Annalena Baerbock do not stand at right angles to the line of the Polish government on all issues.

Certainly when it comes to the rule of law. To a certain extent also in the question of European climate policy, where Poland is slowing down, but in principle also pulling along, especially since it should be amply compensated for it.

Baerbock and Poland understand each other at Nord Stream 2

But when it comes to Russia’s policy and green skepticism about the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipe, the Greens are closer to Warsaw than the SPD. Most importantly, according to a security advisor to the Polish government: The fact that both Baerbock and the new German Chancellor are heading to Warsaw so quickly at all shows how important Poland is, alongside France, also to the new federal government, said Pawel Soloch, head of the National Security offices.

Mixed feelings: Poland and Baerbock

Jan Pallokat, ARD Warsaw, 10.12.2021 · 00:50

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