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Can Poles and Germans speak with one voice


Poles don’t want to argue with Germans about history. They believe that Polish-German relations should be built on contemporary issues, such as common battle with the economic crisis, energy security or strengthening the EU’s position in the international arena – shows the most recent “Barometer Poland-Germany” research of the Institute of Public Affairs and Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

 
The report clearly states that when it comes to Polish-German relations, Poles are in favour of focusing on the present and the future, rather than the past. This opinion is shared by three forth of Poles regardless of their age.


 
“The Poles are tired with returning to the history and divided in their opinions whether discussions about the past will contribute to reconciliation or rather to brooding on the past wrongs” - writes Agnieszka Łada, author of the report.
 
Commenting on the research outcomes, the IPA’s president, dr. Jacek Kucharczyk, reminded that in previous “Barometer” studies Poles held positive opinions about German European policy. The most recent report confirms that this didn’t change.
 
The latest public opinion poll clearlyshowsthat Poles find Germany as a strong partner with whom Poland should cooperate in many fields. The biggest need for cooperation Poles see in the field of tackling the economic crisis and terrorism. Almost as important is the support of developing regions and technological advancement of European economy.
 
“The Poles are aware that without Berlin’s support it will be hard to push through goals important for the Polish international policy. These being among others strengthening the EU’s position internationally and providing democracy assistance for Ukraine or Belarus. In the report Poles showed that they support Polish-German assistance for democratisation of this region and believe that such a cooperation is possible” - comments dr. Łada on her study.
 
Even though the Poles would rather not look back, the issue of history has been raised in the report. Poles were asked about their views on releasing a common Polish-German history textbook.
 
“Poles are divided on this issue: half of the respondents see it as being possible, a few less as impossible” - states the report. “These results are a sign of hesitation within the Polish society on whether such an undertaking is possible. History still divides these two societies and the respondents are aware that writing about it together is a difficult challenge” - is to be read further in the report.
 
The basis for the IPA’s report was research conducted on a representative group of one thousand Poles above the age of fifteen between 13th and 17th January 2011.

Selected findings of the report:

  • Poles ambiguously declare themselves in favour of focusing on issues concerning the present and the future in the Polish-German relations (73%).One fifth believes that it is history what should be brought into focus (20%).

  • Poles see the need of cooperation with Germans in many fields:
    • Fight with terrorism - 77%
       
    • Tackling the economic crisis - 77%
       
    • Development aid for less developed regions - 75%
       
    • Technological advancement of the European economy - 75%
       
    • strengthening EU’s position in the international arena - 73%
       
    • Support for the EU’s energetic independence - 71%
       
    • Support of the European agriculture - 71%
       
    • Tackling the climate change - 67%
       
    • Tightening the cooperation of Poland, Germany and France within the framework of Weimar Triangle - 65%
       
    • Tightening the cooperation of Poland and Germany with the United States within the framework of NATO - 61%
       
    • Democracy and market economy assistance in other Eastern European countries - 61%
       
    • Democracy and market economy assistance in Russia - 52%
       
  • Half of the Poles believe that a common Polish-German policy towards Ukraine and Belarus is possible (49%).More than one third think that differences in standings and interests between Poland and Germany are to big in this field (36%).
     
  • The Polish are divided in their opinions about whether debates about the future contribute to reconciliation (45%) or to brooding on the past wrongs (46%).
     
  • Almost half of the Polish state that it is possible to create a Polish-German textbook which would depict objectively the history of both countries (46%). A few less see it as impossible (41%).
     
  • Half of the respondents would be in favour of Polish children learning from a Polish-German textbook (51%), one third would be against it (31%).
     
  • When evaluating intentions of German actions concerning the establishment of an institution commemorating forced displacement, half of the respondents believe that the intention is to emphasise the suffering of their own nation (56%). One forth believe that the intention is to fully depict German history (28%).
“Barometer Poland-Germany” is a common project of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). Its goal is to regularly analyse and depict opinions of Poles and Germans about Polish-German relations and challenges being faced by both countries. Outcomes of previous studies are available on the following webpage: www.isp.org.pl
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