TWO DECADES OF THE AGREEMENT ON POLISH-GERMAN YOUTH EXCHANGE (Dwadziescia lat umowy o polsko-niemieckiej wymianie mlodziezy)
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On June 17, 1991, along with the treaty on good neighbors and friendly cooperation between Poland and Germany an agreement was signed on the contacts of youth from both countries. Basing on the experiences of hitherto initiatives and German-French cooperation, structural and financial grounds were created for an intensification of the cooperation of young generations. One of the outcomes of this initiative was the establishment of a bi-national organization - the Polish-German Youth Cooperation (Polsko-Niemiecka Wspólpraca Mlodziezy (PNWM)). The political climate of that time decidedly favored friendly relations and a spirit of accord. A perspective of two decades offers a possibility to sum up the effects of those decisions: over two million young people from Poland and Germany could meet thanks to programs co-financed by their governments - direct encounter and the possibility to verify the stereotypical image of neighbors across the Odra being no doubt an immeasurable value. A broad network of institutional cooperation was created to facilitate youth exchange, a process in which a range of subjects have engaged on both sides of the border. One can also notice new developments in mutual relations that result from a change of the socio-political conditions in both countries, above all a common participation in the structures of the European Union. The article describes the legal acts which formed the basis of the Polish-German youth exchange as well as the structure and activity of the PNWM. Besides, subjects active in this area and the character of their activity are presented. The author also outlines the processes of changes that affect the relations between Polish and German youth, and the challenges faced by animators who seek to maintain the hitherto high dynamics and good effects of the cooperation.
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