Poland invites Russia to ‘Weimar Triangle’

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Polish President Bronis?aw Komorowski said yesterday (7 February) that he would welcome Russia to meetings of the Weimar Triangle countries – comprising Poland, Germany and France – as a way of strengthening Moscow's ties with the EU. EURACTIV Poland reports.

Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw's Wilanów palace, Komorowski said that a meeting of the 'Weimar Triangle' with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would be "highly advisable".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was standing alongside Komorowski and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Poland's approach to Russia was "intelligent and bold".

Any moves reaffirming that the Cold War was over were welcome, he added.

Komorowski has been pushing for a revival of so-called 'Weimar Triangle' meetings (see 'Background') despite the fact that many experts claim the formula has died, because Warsaw on the one hand and Paris and Berlin on the other have divergent interests.

Indeed, the need to coordinate views ahead of the upcoming Polish EU Presidency, set for the second half of this year, appears to have been a factor in the decision to convene another 'triangle' meeting.

The three countries share the common objective of better coordinating their security and defence policies in an EU framework. One of the priorities of the Polish EU Presidency will be to make progress on European defence policy, according to press reports.  

Pact for Competitiveness

For their part, Merkel and Sarkozy are taking the opportunity to push Poland to endorse their newly proposed 'Pact for Competitiveness', aimed at strengthening Europe's economy. The pact met with opposition from several member states as soon as it was unveiled at an EU summit last Friday.

"Regarding this competitiveness pact […] we would like to invite countries that don't yet have the euro to participate," Merkel said at the press conference.

"This pact, where there are most opportunities for reforms, is open and we would like to see our Polish friends […] participate because they are a reform-friendly country with a tradition of [fiscal] consolidation," said Merkel, quoted by Reuters.

One of the measures of the 'Pact for Competitiveness' is that EU countries should insert a 'debt alert mechanism' into their national constitutions. Poland already has such a constitutional text and is struggling to prevent its public debt from exceeding 55% of gross domestic product (GDP).

EU budget

The three leaders also discussed the EU's next long-term budget, an issue which is dividing net contributors, like Germany and France, and their poorer neighbour Poland, which fears that generous EU funding for infrastructure and cohesion may be slashed to match austerity cuts in national budgets.

Merkel and Sarkozy signalled that these would indeed be difficult talks.

"Everybody must understand there is a need to curb the deficit of particular member states. In this regard you cannot treat the EU budget differently to national budgets, as the EU budget is directly linked to member states' budgets," Sarkozy said.

Asked to comment on the matter, Komorowski was cautious.

"We are now awaiting the European Commission's proposals […] Polish expectations are linked to our engagement in the Cohesion Policy," he said.

While the leaders were in their meeting, activists from Polish trade union Solidarno?? were protesting against French investment in the Polish energy sector. French giants GDF Suez and EDF Energy want to purchase shares in the state-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), Poland's largest power company.

The Weimar Triangle is a loosely organised group of countries – made up of Poland, Germany and France – that was set up in 1991 in the German city of Weimar.

Its initial aim was to help Poland make the transition from communism to democracy and move it closer to the EU and NATO.

Among those who attended the founding Weimar meeting were the ministers of foreign affairs of Germany (Hans-Dietrich Genscher), France (Roland Dumas) and Poland (Krzysztof Skubiszewski).

Previous trilateral 'Weimar' meetings have taken place both at the level of foreign ministers and heads of state and government. The last meeting at foreign affairs level took place in 2009 in Weimar, while the last summit was held in 2006 in Mettlach.

  • 1 July 2011: Beginning of Polish EU Presidency.
  • Oct. 2011: Parliamentary elections in Poland.

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