Polish president: Europe is safe when Berlin and Warsaw cooperate

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier with President Andrzej Duda Marcin Obara

Europe is safe when Berlin and Warsaw recognise and respect each other and are able to cooperate, Polish President Andrzej Duda said at a conference devoted to Polish-German relations, also attended by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The German head of state arrived for a two-day visit to Poland on Tuesday and earlier held talks with the Polish president.

Polish-German relations are an important element of the European order, Andrzej Duda argued, adding that the lessons of the past 100 years "are difficult, but also inspiring."

"Europe, with Poland and Germany in it, is safe only when Berlin and Warsaw recognise and respect each other and are able to cooperate," Duda stressed.

The geopolitical disasters of the 20th century came or threatened Europe when "in various capitals, especially in Berlin and Moscow, there appeared a temptation to establish a European order at the expense of other countries," the Polish president went on to say.

Describing the history of the Polish and German nations over the past century, Duda underscored the achievements of the anti-communist Solidarity movement in Poland that helped bring down communism and in effect pull down the Berlin Wall, thus ending the division of Germany.

He also mentioned Germany's support for Poland's EU and NATO bid.

"These were the great successes of the free world and they are our common achievement," he observed.

He went on to note that "the lesson coming from those experiences is clear: in the face of common challenges we need to take actions that focus on common good, and not on individual interests."

Andrzej Duda argued that Europe needs reforms in order to respond to citizens' needs.

In this context he criticised EU institutions for choosing to "punish, stigmatise and exclude" rather than cooperate with member states, which according to him played into the hands of those who wanted to disintegrate the EU.

Among tools that could improve the EU's efficiency, Duda named the Weimar Triangle, a platform for cooperation between France, Germany and Poland.

"Poland, Germany and France bring to the Weimar Triangle their specific views of various regions of Europe," Duda argued.

The Polish president mentioned the formats of regional cooperation that Poland is involved in, including the Visegrad Group, the Three Seas initiative and the Bucharest 9, which he said "are an added value for the EU as a whole."

Poland and Germany also share their involvement in eastern policy as they try to put issues of their eastern partners, such as Georgia and Ukraine, on the European agenda, he observed.

Duda acknowledged that Europe faced a serious challenge posed by the migration crisis. "The only right response to the migration crisis is the elimination of its sources. Only then will migrants be able to return to their homes and the migration pressure on southern European countries will ease."

The Polish head of state stressed the importance of the unity of law, institutions, market and budget in reforming the EU. "Every division in the area of common legal heritage, in the area of institutions, in the area of market and budget will be a measure that runs counter to the idea of European integration," he argued, adding that the EU must preserve the freedom of employment, trade, services and movement of capital.

Turning to the issue of security, Duda stressed that Europe's cooperation with the United States was essential. "America remains the main guarantor of security for Europe, equally so for Germany and Poland," he concluded.