Why do so many people love Poland?
This is how Germans and Poles think of each other : Sympathy, but disagreed on Trump and the common history
Germans and Poles have a largely positive view of their relationships. According to the latest "German-Polish Barometer", 60 percent of Germans and 59 percent of Poles rate the relationship as positive. This stands in remarkable contrast to the image in the media, which is shaped by the dispute between the governments: dispute over the future of the European Union, questions of the rule of law in Poland and outstanding war reparations.
However, there are indeed major differences, for example the voting behavior of the citizens differs greatly: In the European elections, the national conservative ruling party PiS was the winner; in Germany the governing parties lost, the big winners were the Greens, who play no role in Poland.
Large majority for cooperation, a third for national interests
As far as the "German-Polish Barometer" is concerned, a large majority of Germans and Poles are in favor of cooperation between the two countries. Only a third of respondents are in favor of a tough defense of national interests. The "Barometer" is a joint project of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation and the Warsaw Institute for Public Affairs. It has been published since 2000. The 2019 edition is entitled "Common Direction - Different Perspectives", comprises 66 pages and examines attitudes towards bilateral relations, the respective historical images and the world order.
However, this cooperative mood between Poles and Germans has its limits when it comes to two issues: when it comes to assessing the policies of US President Donald Trump. And looking at history. This is particularly evident in the great commemorative year 2019. September 1st marks the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, which began with the attack by the German Wehrmacht on Poland. Around half of Poles believe that the suffering they have experienced is not sufficiently known and appreciated outside of their country. In Germany, not even half as many respondents see it that way (21 percent).
Poles do not see their contribution to the fall of the Berlin Wall recognized
The view of the liberation from the communist dictatorship in East Central Europe 30 years ago, which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, is also different. This movement began with the uprising of the Polish trade union Solidarnosc. In Warsaw, the round table negotiations on the change of power were already taking place in February 1989, when the communist regimes in the neighboring countries seemed to be firmly in the saddle. At the beginning of September 1989, Poland had the first freely elected head of government in the Eastern Bloc, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, many weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Around 40 of the Poles believe that their key role as pioneers is not being recognized internationally enough.
The Germans would find it difficult to recognize Poland's contribution to the overthrow of communism and to democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe, writes the author of the study, Agnieszka Łada, director of the Europe program at the Warsaw Institute for Public Affairs (ISP). 40 percent of Germans believe that Poland has made a contribution to the turnaround. However, only 13 percent see a strong Polish contribution to the turnaround. Germans tend to give the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a large share.
High approval of Merkel, Trump, EU and NATO in Poland
And when it comes to evaluating other actors at international level, Germans and Poles differ significantly in their evaluations. The opinions of US President Donald Trump are the most divergent. 47 percent of Poles see Trump positively, but only 15 percent of Germans. The Germans rate the French President Emmanuel Macron most positively (68 percent), followed by Angela Merkel (61 percent). The Poles rate the Chancellor (48 percent) better than the French President (39 percent). Only 18 percent of Poles see Vladimir Putin as positive. With the Germans it is 29 percent.
In the opinion of large majorities in both Poland and Germany, the accession of Poland and other countries in East Central Europe to NATO has brought about a gain in security in Europe. This is confirmed by more Poles (75 percent) than Germans (63 percent). The views on opening up the EU are similar. 76 percent of Poles and 64 percent of Germans say this has contributed to economic development and political stability.
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