Revival of the Weimar Triangle?

As Polish society voted out the nationalistic PiS party and the new government of Donald Tusk is re-shifting priorities of its foreign policy, a discussion about the revival of the Weimar Triangle has re-emerged. Not for the first time, voices advocating for tightening minilatertal cooperation among Germany, France, and Poland are to be heard. However, for the first time in years, a window of opportunity for such a format has opened. While minilateral formats are on the rise in general but specifically with participation of EU member countries, the overall added value might sometimes not be visible at the first glance. There is per se nothing wrong with this development. Smaller groups of countries working together might even contribute to a smoother decision-making process in an hopefully again enlarging EU.

Minilateral formats have existed before (see Benelux) or directly served European Integration (see Visegrad Four). However, during the last years, the number has drastically increased (Three Seas Initiative, Central Europe Five, Slavkov Format to name just a few). The Weimar Triangle has the unique potential to actually advance integration and contribute to the future of the EU as they do not only represent bigger member countries in terms of population but also GDP, bridging West and Central Europe. They might also contribute to alleviating the imbalance regarding EU top jobs and geographical representation and coincidentally the French President, German Chancellor, and the Polish Prime Minister represent the currently three biggest fractions in the European Parliament (EPP – Tusk, S&D Scholz, Renew – Macron).

Romain Le Quiniou from the French think tank Euro Creative met with Malwina Talik and Sebastian Schäffer to discuss how feasible such a scenario is and what potential lies in such a cooperation, so to say a mini(lateral) Weimar Triangle at IDM! More to come—stay tuned!

Malwina Talik im ZiB2-Gespräch über die Liberalisierung des Abtreibungsgesetzes in Polen

Malwina Talik (IDM) war am 25. Jänner in der ZiB2 bei Margit Laufer zu Gast. Dort hat sie die Pläne zur Liberalisierung des Abtreibungsgesetzes in Polen analysiert und mögliche Hürden besprochen.

Sehen Sie sich das Interview hier an.

How to Beat Authoritarian Parties, Polish-Style

Malwina Talik (IDM) gives her opinion for Fair Observer about what can democratic oppositions contesting elections this year learn from Poland after last year, when Poland’s opposition successfully defeated the illiberal ruling party Law and Justice. They did so not by forming a big tent coalition, but by each party speaking to the concerns of each voter. Poland’s success can be an example as an unusually high number of elections take place worldwide this year.

Read the whole article here.

Dynamics of the Visegrad Group. Navigating Political Shifts, Challenges and Prospects for EU Enlargement

The political differences in the Visegrad Four (V4) countries that emerged as a result of the elections in Poland (15 October 2023) and Slovakia (30 September 2023) will not significantly impact the dynamics of cooperation among the group. The format remains in crisis due to Hungary’s pro-Russia foreign policy stance and its sceptical approach to the EU’s pro-Ukraine policy direction.

The upcoming European Council meeting on December 14–15, which will see key decisions made on EU enlargement, will once again highlight the lack of unity and cohesion among V4 group members, with Hungary being the outlier. As a result, the V4 will continue to serve as a platform for regional cooperation, but one should not expect a revival of coordinated foreign or European policy as seen in response to the 2015 migration crisis or the “Nutella crisis” in 2017 when the V4 mobilised to fight against the “double standards” of imported food sold in their countries.

What is more, in the long run, the ideological differences are not likely to divide the countries that created the V4, regardless of the political preference of ruling governments. For example, the International Visegrad Fund (IVF), co-managed by V4 countries and supporting regional cooperation projects in the region, or formats such as Think Visegrad—V4 Think Tank Platform, a hub of V4 joint analysis, remain an important aspect of cooperation. On the other hand, there is a threat that due to persisting political differences, the individual V4 countries will seek to engage in alternative formats of regional cooperation. For example, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will most likely invest in the development of the Slavkov Triangle or Central Five Initiative (C5), involving Austria. Poland will focus on rebuilding relations within the Weimar Triangle and will remain active within the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) until the end of President Andrzej Duda’s term in 2025.

What will change and what will not

Poland and the Czech Republic will not allow Hungary, and perhaps Slovakia, to appropriate the V4 as a Eurosceptic or even anti-Western platform. Furthermore, Slovakia will not replace Poland to the same extent as an important partner in activating the V4 format or advocating Slovakia’s own position on the international stage. After its initial declaration, Slovakia will most probably not stick to all its electoral promises related to withholding military aid to Ukraine or pursuing a more assertive European policy. This is because Slovakia does not have a tradition of conducting proactive foreign policy, so it is unlikely Bratislava would use its veto power in Brussels to back Hungary. As the V4’s only eurozone country, Slovakia traditionally advocates for a constructive European policy based on consensus. Robert Fico demonstrated such an approach during his previous term.

Polish-Hungarian relations will not improve, and Hungary will be isolated within the V4 over Russia. Prime Minister Orban deliberately plays the role of a disruptor in the EU and NATO decision-making process, openly challenging the model of liberal democracy and steering the country towards an authoritarian regime. On the other hand, soon-to-be new/old Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk is known for his critical stance towards Viktor Orban. Bilateral disputes between Slovakia and Hungary (related to Orban’s controversial historical policies) further complicate the situation and isolate Hungary within the V4.

The V4 also faces an image problem in the EU, with a prevailing negative perception of its member countries. Therefore, Poland is not likely to heavily leverage the V4 in the coming years. In recent years, other formats such as the Bucharest Nine (B9), Three Seas Initiative (3SI), Slavkov Triangle, or Central Five Initiative (C5) have gained prominence, with V4 countries actively participating.

Finally, Poland is not necessarily seen by other Visegrad countries as a leader in the region. Poland’s reputation has also been damaged due to the deterioration of the rule of law (Slovakia, under the previous government, became more sceptical of Poland’s actions and pushed V4 activities aside) and the conflict with the Czech Republic over the Turow coal mine.

To sum up, looking back on 2023 and trying to foresee the developments on the international stage in 2024, we can be sure that the V4 will stay on the map of regional groupings in the EU in the years to come and will keep being used as a passive platform for regional cooperation. However, one should not expect a revival of coordinated foreign or European policy among the V4 unless Hungary adjusts its stance on Russia to align with the European mainstream.

How political parties used TikTok to target young voters in Poland’s general elections

Malwina Talik was interviewed by Gezim Hilaj/Interhackitives about the role of social media, especially TikTok in targeting young voters in Poland`s general elections.
You can read (and watch) it here.

Poland after Elections: Malwina Talik at the Discussion of the IIP (Vienna)

International Institute for Peace (Vienna) organized a panel discussion about the outcomes of the parliamentary in Poland and their impact on the regional, especially its relations with Ukraine and Belarus.

Our colleague Malwina Talik was among the speakers together with Maciej Kisilowski, Associate Professor of Law and Strategy, Central European University, Artyom Shraibman, Belarusian Political Analyst; Contributor to Carnegie Politika and Olena Khylko, Researcher at the Comenius University in Bratislava. The event was moderated by Marylia Hushcha, Researcher at the IIP.

More information here.

This may also be of interest:

Wohin steuert Polen?

Polen hat ein neues Parlament gewählt, die Opposition um Donald Tusk könnte künftig regieren. Politologin Malwina Talik analysiert im Video, was das für die Zukunft des Landes heißt.

Lesen Sie den gesamten Artikel hier.


Is the Polish Government’s Provocative Immigration Rhetoric Going To Work?

Poland’s general elections are coming up this Sunday. The ruling Law and Justice party has added a referendum to the ballot, with questions intended to stoke fears about immigration. This may be a tactic Law and Justice is using to edge out its right-wing challenger, Konfederacja. But will it work?

Read the whole article here.

Parliamentary Elections in Poland 2023

Read the briefing by Kinga Brudzińska  and Malwina Talik here:

The whole discussion will be available on the YouTube channel of the IDM:

Malwina Talik at the international conference “Revolutionale” in Germany

Extraordinary things happen when ordinary people take action in challenging circumstances and times. This sentence from the keynote by Nobel Prize winner Oleksandra Matviichuk expressed well the purpose of the International Round Table Conference (IRTC) 2023 in Leipzig, Germany: gathering activists, NGOs, journalists and think tankers from around the world to learn from one another and exchange their observations and insights.

Our colleague Malwina Talik participated in this event together with approximately 80 other guests. As part of the “70yearsIDM” event series, she also organized a workshop for NGOs on how they can create and implement a digital strategy. .

The IRTC is a democracy and human rights conference that offers participants a non-public, safe space to exchange views on socio-political issues, current challenges and shared values. It is part of the project REVOLUTIONALE, run by the Foundation of the Peaceful Revolution with the aim to strengthen civil society engagement for human rights, democracy and social change.