Multilateralism, German Foreign Policy, and Central Europe

By Claus Hofhansel | Go to book overview

7

Conclusion

Overall, since the end of the Cold War, German governments have extended their emphasis on multilateral arrangements in Germany's foreign relations from the West to relations with Central and Eastern Europe. This comes through, first of all, in an analysis of (West) German treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic from the Cold War period to the 1990s. The Cold War treaties were bilateral treaties, although to understand them it is important to put them into the context of Cold War alliances and West German embeddedness in Western multilateral institutions in particular. In contrast to the infamous Rapallo Treaty of 1922 between Germany and the Soviet Union, in the 1960s and 1970s West German governments went to great lengths to inform Western allies of West German intentions and progress in the negotiations with the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In the friendship and cooperation treaties of the early 1990s Germany committed itself to assisting Poland and Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic in their efforts to join the most important multilateral European organization, the European Community/ European Union. These treaties also contained provisions on the rights of German minorities, which incorporated multilateral minority rights norms agreed to in the context of the Conference (Organization) for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

On the other hand, there is also evidence of limits to German support of multilateralism. The border and friendship treaties between Germany and Poland of 1990 and 1991, and the border treaty in particular, were closely linked to the diplomacy of German reunification. However, the German government strongly resisted attempts to extend the range of participants in the negotiations on German reunification beyond the two German states and the four victorious allies of World War II. This position was directed particularly against attempts by the Polish government, which had been concerned about German waffling over the German-Polish border, to become a full-fledged participant in these talks. Furthermore, the compensation agreements for victims of Nazi crimes have been almost exclusively bilateral agreements. This applies to both the Cold War and post-Cold War period. The only exception is the multilateral forced/slave labor agreement

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