Inspired by the 50th anniversary of Willy Brandt’s historical gesture in Warsaw, the so-called “Warsaw genuflection”, we reflect upon the principles of his original strategy towards the Eastern Bloc. Which of these principles could guide us today in search of a new progressive Ostpolitik? We recognize that the world has significantly changed: the “Cold War” and the ideological rivalry between Russia and the United States has passed. Today, we live in a far more fragmented political reality, with new challenges, such as cyber warfare. Looking at what is happening inside the EU, just outside of its borders and with regards to a new reality in transatlantic relations, one thing is clear: the need for a new generation of Ostpolitik.
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The complexity of today’s situation should not discourage us from thinking bold. We advocate for “daring more democracy” in shaping Europe’s Eastern policy, both when it comes to defending values as well as engaging more with society. In other words: being ambitious, but not naive. The task is to combine the value-driven approach with progressive pragmatism.
In particular, we call for:
A Value-based Foreign Policy: Contesting malign activities of Putin’s Russia, be it the annexations in Ukraine or Georgia or the support of recent actions by Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus;
Striving for European Unity: organizing and mobilizing the European community around common goals in foreign policy;
Assuming Responsibility in the Neighborhood: Recognizing the EU’s moral duty to revitalize the Eastern Partnership and support the defence of human rights and civil liberties in Eastern Europe;
Normalization through Dialogue: Striving for a principle-based exchange in the countries of Eastern Partnership and Russia on two levels: with political leaders and civil society.
The underlying principle of the new Ostpolitik should be that it is not exclusively a German project but a European initiative, with equal engagement of all member states as well as inclusion of the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood. Eastern policy cannot be developed in a void: it needs to be embedded into the framework of existing alliances and neighbourhood policies and a broader consensus of all EU states is required. The next Ostpolitik must be a European one.
Background: Celebrating 50 Years of the „Kniefall von Warschau“
In 2020, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Willy Brandt’s historical gesture in Warsaw, a symbol of reconciliation and dialogue between the East and the West. This publication draws upon the main arguments and conclusions met during an international roundtable held online, on December 8th, 2020, debating the heritage of Brandt’s Ostpolitik. The event hosted Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former President of Poland; Kati Piri, MEP and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Max Bergmann, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress and Liana Fix, Head of International Politics, Körber-Stiftung. This paper was inspired by that lively debate.
About the Rapporteur
Maria Skóra, PhD is Head of International Dialogue at Das Progressive Zentrum in charge of international projects, with her own focus on CEE and transatlantic relations. She formerly worked for the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, Berlin, and supported the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions in Warsaw as an expert.
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This publication was published with the financial support of the European Parliament. The views presented in this paper do not represent those of the European Parliament but only of the respective authors.
Daring More Europe: A New Progressive Eastern Policy Discussion Paper "New Progressive Ostpolitik for Europe"
This Discussion Paper takes a closer look at the current challenges of the European foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia and sketches a vision for a new generation of Ostpolitik, aiming at organizing European unity as well as strengthening the EU’s strategic alliances in Eastern Europe and across the Atlantic.
2020 started with the urgent challenges of mitigating climate change, soothing disaffection with democracy, and easing anxiety about jobs disappearing due to technological progress. Little did we know all these concerns would only become more pronounced with the emergence of the global pandemic of COVID19, affecting all, but not everybody equally.
Alongside every other nation in the world, both Germany and the United States have to deal with the challenges described. In a multilateral world, where cooperation is a key to success, these common difficulties can only be overcome by exchanging best practices and building enough political will and trust in order to tackle them together.
We believe that cities and metropolitan areas play an ever more important role in sustaining and further developing the close historical, cultural, economic and political ties between the United States and Germany.
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About the Paper
This working paper was written based on the results of two conferences held in 2020 in the United States and Germany, focusing on the most pressing issues ahead of cities today when it comes to inclusive growth, sustainability, democratic governance. We want to reflect upon the challenges that cities and metropolitan areas in both countries are facing today, look beyond their local level activity and identify these urban spaces as internationally relevant actors, capable of not only tackling global challenges at the local level but also strengthening the transatlantic alliance from the bottom up.
This working paper sets the scene for further activities within the New Urban Progress project, bringing together German and U.S. perspectives in a spirit of mutual understanding and the pursuit of a common goal: making German and U.S. cities transatlantic changemakers and trendsetters for a more prosperous future.
New Urban Progress is the joint metro initiative of Das Progressive Zentrum, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the Progressive Policy Institute. The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).
Am 10. Mai sollten in Polen die Präsidentschaftswahlen abgehalten werden. Die regierende PiS-Partei war entschlossen, die Abstimmung trotz des Ausbruchs der COVID-19-Pandemie durchzuführen. In letzter Minute sah sie sich jedoch gezwungen, die Wahl abzusagen, da der politische Druck zu groß geworden war. Der Zustand der Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit in dem Land wird bereits seit einiger Zeit kritisiert. Im Interview erklärt Maria Skóra, Leiterin des Programmbereichs Internationaler Dialog des Progressiven Zentrums, wie die Regierung die aktuelle Gesundheitskrise zu ihrem Vorteil nutzt – und wie dies die Demokratie untergräbt.
The Visegrad Four has aroused the minds and hearts of political spectators and actors alike lately: From a rather innocent and inconspicuous platform for informal regional cooperation, the V4 has evolved into a perceived antithesis of the European political mainstream in recent years. Yet, is this a mere snapshot of the current state of the V4 or a lasting development? What does the future hold for the V4? And, more importantly, how can progressive forces actively shape this future? Responses of our experts at the second international roundtable on ‘Future Scenarios for the Visegrad Group’ were mixed. Yet, on one aspect there was broad agreement: It is about high time to reinvent progressive politics – both spatially and thematically.
Has the Visegrad Group turned into a unified alliance of enemies to EU integration and refugees? Not according to the experts at our roundtable. Some of them even fear a potential implosion of the group.