Home .Globalization winners Central and Eastern Europe, and Germany
Central and Eastern Europe, and Germany
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 01:20

This week we have invited Emanuele Schibotto*, Editorial Coordinator of our knowledge partner www.Equilibri.net , to prepare a contribution on the "Future of stability in central and eastern Europe: the key role of Germany".  Here it is:

The reelection of Donald Tusk as Prime Minister of Poland is good news for central and eastern Europe. Thoughout the region a period of political stability is ahead, with a central role to be played by Germany.

Last month Polish voters confirmed Donald Tusk and his Party, Civic Platform, to the leadership of the country. The victory is quite significant as Civic Platform is the first party to be reappointed consecutively since 1989. Poland decided to stick with Turk's pro-Europe policies and endorse their successes, both in domestic and foreign policy. The elections resulted in the failure of Law and Justice, the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former Premier and twin brother of Lech, the President killed in a tragic plane crash in 2010.

Tusk's major achievement has been the ability to lead his country towards economic growth despite the global economic turbulence and the European debt crisis. Since Tusk took office in 2007 Poland reported an annual economic growth of more than 4% and growth projections for 2011 and 2012 indicate GDP increases of 3.7 and 2 percent respectively, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  Public debt is only 55% of GDP and inflation remains below 4%.

With regard to foreign affairs, the Tusk Cabinet restarted the normalization process with Germany and Russia, which came to a halt under the Kaczynski administration. So far Tusk and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorsrki, have run a balanced foreign policy. However, the legitimate ambitions of a country aware of its economic growth and its political weight among the new EU members are starting to emerge. An example of this is the Eastern Partnership: the diplomatic initiative established in 2009 by Sweden and Poland, within the framework of EU external policy, aimed at attracting countries from Eastern Europe and South Caucasus into the European Union sphere of influence. In this context Germany will continue to act as a regional balancing factor, therefore playing a crucial role.

Poland is aiming to join the eurozone and regards Germany as the example to follow - notably on economic and fiscal policy. The two countries have recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the singature of the Treaty of Cooperation and Good Neighbourship, which represents the pillar of bilateral relations since the end of the Cold war.

At the same time, Russia looks at the Poland-Germany partnership as a sort of guarantee of the containment of a potential anti-Russian policy by Poland. It is recalled that over the last two decades Russian foreign policy had one tenet among many uncertanties: the sound partnerhip with Germany. From Gorbachev to Yeltsin to Putin to Medvev, Russian leadership deemed the relationship with Berlin of paramount importance. And so did Germany, which established the relationship on pragmatic, non-ideological grounds.

The almost certain reappointment of Vladimir Putin (let's remember that Putin is fluent in German, and so is Tusk) as President of the Kremlin next year will guarantee continued collaboration, not only inter-state relations, but also inter-regional and city-to-city relations. Russia needs Germany both from an economic and geopolitical point of view. Germany is the major European destination of Russian energy resources, and it an indispensable supplier of the technology the Kremlin needs for its economic modernization efforts. What's more, Berlin's economic clout on Russia's near abroad contributes to containing the US influence in the area. Finally, Germany has been been a strong supporter of Russia's accession to the WTO, which should be soon finalized after Georgia's recent approval.

From its side Germany will keep pursuing an Ostpolitik based on the reconciliation with Warsaw and the strategic partnership with Moscow. Whoever is going to lead the Bundesrepublik from 2013 onwards will most likely shape his European agenda around these two relationships – the maintenance of the “special relationship” with Paris notwithstanding.

We certainly cannot rule out the emergence of tensions from the geopolitical area located between the sphere of influence of the EU (or better say, Germany) and the Russian neighbourhood space – think of Ukraine and Belarus in particular. Nonetheless, with the reappointment of Donald Tusk in Poland, the return of Putin in Russia and Germany keeping the balance, the region will keep witnessing political stability, which in turn is going to bring about economic growth despite European financial turbolences.

 


References:

Regional Economic Prospects, EBRD, October 20111

Judy Dempsey, Russia and Germany Bolster Trade Ties, July 19th 2011

Jan Cienski, Chris Bryant, Neil Buckley, Poland reshapes ties with Germany, Financial Times, April 20th 2011

* The author is PhD candidate in Geopolitics at the Guglielmo Marconi University in Rome. He also is Editorial Coordinator of Equilibri.net, an Italian think tank on Geopolitics and International Relations.


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