2017 | 49 | 143-156
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Indispensable Partner or Significant Other? German and French Media Portrayals of Poland after 25 Years of Weimar Triangle

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With the intention of the German, French and Polish foreign ministers to bring their countries closer together after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Weimar Triangle was founded in 1991. This setting has enabled an institutionalised regional cooperation on the governmental level as well as between the respective civil societies. However today, in a Europe of permanent crises and protracted uncertainty, a risky divergence between Germany, France and Poland seems to emerge. Since the Polish national elections in October 2015 has brought the right‑wing, nationalist Law‑ and‑Justice‑party (PiS) into power, we are also witnessing a rising relevance of domestic political determinants for mutual contacts. Facing this new period of tension, where more closeness and trust would be required, discursive attitudes and strategies of ‘othering’ might gain ground and lead to increasing alienation. Based on the assumption that the portrayal of a country could be both the first step towards creating and obtaining a more inclusive or exclusive identity, this paper aims to find out the following: in how far are German and French media about to pre‑ cook patterns of asymmetry and alienation? Or follow they rather an inclusive and comprehensible approach towards Poland? These questions are exemplified by the biggest centre‑left and centre‑right German and French daily newspapers Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Le Monde and Le Figaro, whereas the corpus of data is limited to the period of the year 2016. By making use of the critical discourse analysis, this paper provides information about to what extent Poland is considered to be a close and indispensable partner as well as to where we can identify mechanisms of putting the country aside as a significant other.
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