September 13, 2010
In the 90’s, along with German reunification and the upheaval of Eastern Europe map, France, Germany and Poland set up an informal forum, named the Triangle of Weimar. This forum stills exists, even if more or less on decline, and covers many fields of tri-lateral cooperation, including defence.
Initially, this cooperation could have become to a strong link between three of the main countries of continental Europe. Germany being in a central position, this triangle could have been an opportunity to strengthen Europe by associating countries having different areas of interest and influence. Furthermore, France being a traditional friend of Poland, while Germany wanted to heal the remnants of World War II and definitely lift the Polish doubts on German acceptance of the new borders, everybody could find in this association a visible sign of reconciliation and friendship.
However, this did not happen. Germany, which social stability has been built for 60 years on economic prosperity needed to expand to new markets and saw in the opening of Eastern Europe a unique opportunity to seize. With the reunification, Germany started looking more and more towards Warsaw and the huge economic perspectives to upgrades the Eastern economies. At the same time, France, torn in two directions, wanted neither to abandon continental Europe to Germany, nor to leave Great Britain alone with the USA. Then the relations, including in the field of defence started shifting: Germany started to strengthen its links with Eastern Europe, with a strong effort towards Poland; France leaving Germany, while reinforcing its cooperation with Great Britain, which has approximately the same principles than France in this domain (Nuclear power + expeditionary culture).
And Poland: Poland, happy to have for the very first time in its History good relations with Germany, accepted this cooperation. But simultaneously, Poland did not want to be alone with Germany. The difference of power would have been such that German influence would have been too much for Polish minds. Then Poland agreed to develop links with its traditional friend, I mean France. In parallel, focused by its second historic enemy, Soviet Union and then Russia, Poland was looking for an ally, which would guarantee its independence. Logically, they made the choice of the USA, choice concretized by the extensive cooperation of Poland to US requirements or commercial offers.
Now the direct consequence of this shift in the defence relations between those three countries is a growing gap between the respective defence policies, automatically making European Defence stumble.
Notwithstanding, it could be that things are again moving onwards: Poland is reinforcing its links with France and Germany (e.g: Eurocorps), may be because of the cumbersome US partner. France does not progress that fast in its discussions with Great Britain and would appreciate coming closer to Germany and Poland. It could prove useful like Poland did in Chad and Germany, which is, volens nolens, the first European power. Germany as well seems to have understood that leaving its relation with France in fallow land, could encourage the latter to abandon Franco-German relationship, which is still an important symbol in the German public opinion -more than in France- and offers international legitimacy in its development of bi-lateral relations with Central Europe countries, plus a partner in various NATO and EU projects to which they both take part.
I would then conclude that the Weimar triangle, even if not very dynamic, could be an option worth getting reinforced.Author : f.