AS the result of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's extensive visit here, West Germany will play a role in Poland such as it has never before had in the postwar period. After years of almost constant friction between the two countries, relations have entered a new stage, in which deepened economic ties and closer political and cultural links will be forthcoming.
In part, this can be seen as a personal victory for Mr. Kohl, who despite ongoing events of historic proportions in East Germany, spent five intensive days, ending Tuesday, in Poland. During this time, he paid tribute to the new democratic government led by the Solidarity trade union and reassured the Poles that they, too, are part of Europe.
Time and again, Kohl stated that without the reforms in Poland, the great changes in East Germany could not have taken place. He repeatedly said that Warsaw as well as Budapest, Moscow, and Prague are part of Europe just as much as Bonn, Brussels, Paris, and Berlin. And again and again he invited the new Poland to participate in the shaping of tomorrow's Europe.
``The door is wide open,'' the chancellor said last Monday at the Catholic University of Lublin. ``Europe is incomplete and inconceivable without Poland. Europe needs a free Poland and a free Germany.''
But Helmut Kohl could not, and would not, have said this if it were not for the formation of a Solidarity-led government in Poland two months ago. This paved the way for the present marked improvement in Polish-West German relations and broke the long deadlock in talks between the two countries. The government's very existence is, in fact, the reason for Kohl's visit at this time.
The result is not only the biggest Western aid package to Poland so far - believed to include almost $2 billion and 11 other accords spanning a wide area - but also a joint declaration of 78 points in which the two nations establish the framework for broad cooperation in the coming years.
The development of ties between the two is of ``fundamental importance for peace, security, and stability in Europe,'' the declaration stressed.
As an answer to Poland's sensitivity concerning its western border, the declaration stated that the present borders in Europe are ``inviolable.'' (About a third of present-day Poland used to belong to Germany.)
This declaration fell short of the formal legislation on the border question sought by Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, but Kohl went out of his way to reassure the Poles that West Germany had no claims on former German territories, where Poland's western border now runs. Kohl also said that a reunification of the two Germanies could only take place as part of a larger settlement, involving not only the rest of Europe but also the two superpowers. ``We know we don't live alone,'' Kohl said at the joint press conference Tuesday. He carefully avoided mention of the the word reunification, but instead talked about the right of ``self-determination.''
Polish reactions to the visit were positive. Adam Bromke, a professor at the Polish Academy of Science, said that he thinks the Germans learned a lesson from the war. ``I don't think our borders are questioned, or that they can be changed, for that matter.''
There is also, however, a lingering suspicion among Poles toward Germany and Germans, and this will take more than a visit by Kohl to overcome. Still, for prominent editor Marcin Krol the choice is simple.
``It is better to be a total colony of West Germany than a half colony of the Soviet Union,'' he says.
To Mr. Krol, only the Germans have real interests in Poland, and having anti-German feelings serves no purpose other than to make Poles dependent on illusions in international politics. ``But we Poles don't recognize this, yet,'' he adds.