Schroeder, Kwasniewski agree to fund university

26th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 July 2005, FRANKFURT ON THE ODER, GERMANY - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski agreed Monday to pour millions of euros of new funding into a landmark multilingual university on the border between their two nations.

26 July 2005

FRANKFURT ON THE ODER, GERMANY - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski agreed Monday to pour millions of euros of new funding into a landmark multilingual university on the border between their two nations.

Both nations believe that a shared scholarship will help ease recent strains in their relationship. They are to set up a EUR 55 million foundation to back Viadrina European University, a school that currently has 5,000 students.

It is situated in the eastern German city of Frankfurt on the Oder, which since 1945 has been on the German-Polish border. The former German eastern part of the city, Slubice, is part of Poland.

Schroeder said after the meeting in Frankfurt on the Oder, "We want to put this cooperation by teachers and professors on a solid basis." Poland is to contribute EUR 5 million of the total with the rest to come from Germany.

Taking part in the meeting was Viadrina University president, Gesine Schwan, who is also Schroeder's official coordinator for German-Polish relations. She has sought to convert the school from a regular state university into a multinational foundation.

With courses available in German, Polish and French, its degrees would be fully equivalent to those in Poland and France. Currently one third of the Viadrina students come from Poland.

Kwasniewski said the new generation of students at Viadrina were putting European unity into practice. He was to open a scholarly congress at Humboldt University in Berlin later Monday where 1,500 academics will discuss Eastern European studies in a conference lasting until Saturday.

Bilateral ties between Germany and Poland have suffered over past years due to a series of issues.

These include threats by ethnic Germans expelled from Poland after World War II to seek return of former properties through courts following Poland's admission to the European Union in 2004. Such moves have been firmly rejected by Schroeder.

Many Poles are upset over attempts by expellees - also not supported by Schroeder - to set up in Berlin a centre on expulsions.

Warsaw says Berlin is the wrong place for such a museum given that it was the capital of Nazi Germany in which the Third Reich planned the bloody invasion of Poland which started World War II in 1939.

There is lingering anger in both Warsaw and Berlin over the 2003 Iraq war which Schroeder strongly opposed and Warsaw supported by sending troops to join U.S. forces which led the military operation.

Polish leaders are also deeply wary over Chancellor Schroeder's close political friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Relations between Germany and Poland are ... in their deepest crisis since the (1990) German reunification," said Basil Kerski, editor of the German-Polish magazine DIALOG in a recent article for the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik.

DPA

Subject: German news

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