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The Re-Emergence of the Weimar Triangle

Following Donald Tusk’s return to the Polish Premiership in December 2023, the former President of the European Council has turned away from the strong relations Poland had with the Visegrad Group under the PiS Government. Tusk has instead opted for a revival of relations with Poland’s European Allies and of the Weimar Triangle. 

The Weimar Triangle was created in 1991, in the German City of Weimar. It is a partnership between Poland, Germany and France, intended to allow cooperation on European issues. With the looming Russian threat on Europe’s eastern front, it can also be seen as a defence partnership. 

This is a considerable shift from Poland’s troublemaker status in Europe under PiS. Further, a move away from the Visegrad Group, likely carried out to condemn Hungary and Slovakia as the two countries choose to stay “neutral” on the war in Ukraine, and sit comfortably at President Putin’s side. After all, this was a key point of Donald Tusk’s campaign, a European Poland. Now, his efforts to regenerate relations with Europe have paid off.

At the end of February, the nearly 140 billion euros (approx 600 billion zł) of frozen funds for Poland, halted by the EU as a punishment for rule of law violations by the previous Government, was unblocked, potentially giving the Polish Government greater financial tools, in times of economic strife. 

Furthermore, the reestablishment of the Weimar Triangle, aided by the respected and well-known Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, could help smooth out disagreements between the camps of Macron and Scholz. The leaders of the two big guns of the European Union, have not seen eye to eye on a wide range of issues, from nuclear energy, to most recently, clearly divided perspectives on the war in Ukraine. In a statement which makes every student of soft power cringe, President Macron instigated that he was not against sending troops to Ukraine if the necessity calls for it. Despite Macron's recent “tidying” of his previous remarks Olaf Scholz was direct in his rebuttal of such propositions, continuing Germany’s nearly 20 year balancing act.

Although both parties have played down the rift, with Macron claiming it to be a matter of “style” not “policy”, a resolute partnership has to emerge to face down Putin’s aggression. Prior to the most recent meeting of the Weimar Triangle, Donald Tusk called for the quieting of the white noise, calling for “more ammo” for Ukraine.

Indeed, the lack of ammunition and shells for Ukraine is daunting. The defending force has begun rationing their amounts, demonstrating the immediate need for delivery, which in large part has been blamed on the blockage and filibustering of the Ukraine aid package by Republicans in the US Congress. According to Time magazine, if the package passes, 1.3 million rounds will make it to Ukraine which will hopefully allow for the country to continue its fight. 

This ordeal raises two big points. Having been cleared to run in the US election by the Supreme Court, the potential reelection of Donald Trump poses a grave threat to NATO and to Ukraine. The former US President has boldly asserted time and again that he will have that war settled in “24 hours”. Potentially, this may mean an end to fighting, in return for the end of the US participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Whatever your perspective, the European perspective is a lot more resolute than in the US, despite the rise of populism in Europe, it is unlikely to disrupt Europe’s intention to stand with Ukraine in the coming years. In fact, populist leaders, such as Boris Johnson or Mateusz Morawiecki, love to play themselves as Churchillian figures, standing up to Vladimir Putin. Thus, can Europe stand firm and resolute, even with the withdrawal of the US from NATO?

This brings us to discussions of a European Army. Personally, I align more with the position Radek Sikorski took during the Wall Street Journal event with the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain, Germany and Poland. He called for a more focused European force, giving the example of how in the US War of independence (1775-1783), a Continental Army was created, instead of rallying all of the state militias. President Macron has been one of the headline leaders of a bigger, bolder European Army. Olaf Scholz, as ever, tight lipped. 

Therefore, there is much dialogue to be had about the future of Europe’s military ambitions, handling of a potential marked shift in NATO and the rise of populism. In a time when the liberal democracies of Europe are on the decline, the re-emergence of the Weimar Triangle, might just be the first flag recaptured from the claws of populist puppets and isolationists.

Image: AFP/via France 24

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