An EU-Belarus border crises at the end of 2021 and Russia’s increased military activity along the Ukrainian border with an actual threat of large-scale invasion in 2022 are just a few of the examples of the complex challenges facing Eastern Europe. The report “Between the Past and Future. Poland and Germany in Eastern Europe” published in the framework of the project “DE-PL Roundtable on the East”, implemented in cooperation The Jan Nowak-Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe, details why a strong and comprehensive German-Polish cooperation is needed to effectively respond to the various challenges and make use of opportunities emerging in the region.
Polish and German policies towards Eastern Europe are deeply rooted in history (and its narratives and interpretations), culture and social perceptions. In these turbulent and uncertain times, a thorough discussion on how these factors continue to shape the (foreign) policies of both countries is as pertinent as ever before. Throughout the paper, Adam Balcer and Tim Bohse offer recommendations pertaining to how both countries can overcome the existing bilateral tensions and improve their cooperation because the latter can have a much needed positive impact on the region. Authors start by describing the impact of culture and history on the social perceptions of Eastern Europe in both countries. They proceed to discuss the Polish and German contributions to the security of the Baltic states. Following this, Poland and Germany’s policies towards Belarus and Belarusian society are analyzed. Finally, Nord Stream 2 is discussed as one of the most serious sources of tensions between the countries.