October 26, 2021

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German foreign policy after the death of Angela Merkel

German foreign policy after the death of Angela Merkel

  • Christoph Heusgen explains that Ukraine has no chance of joining not only NATO but also the European Union.
  • With regard to Russia and China, Germany will alternately use pressure and dialogue.
  • Berlin assumes that its role in European politics will grow, and at the same time does not believe in the project of a common foreign policy of the European Union
  • The German diplomat’s words reveal a whole series of basic conclusions for Poland
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Heusgen has officially retired after four years as Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, but he is still considered one of the key figures in the German foreign policy establishment. He was listed as a candidate for the position of the new president of the Munich Security Conference.

In German foreign policy, there has always been some kind of competition between the chancellor’s office and the Foreign Ministry. During the rule of Angela Merkel, the role of the office has increased significantly, and it is likely that this state will also continue under the rule of the new head of government. Given the above and the fact that after the formation of a new government, only minor adjustments may occur in the course (according to rumors, the SPD may appear the State Department, and the post of head of diplomacy in the government of Angela Merkel Heiko Mass may remain), it is worthwhile to deal with Heusgen’s words not on It is a picture of the past, but rather a very open presentation of the German way of thinking about foreign policy.

I deleted the word “west” from my vocabulary

The title of the interview in the English version of Der Spiegel, “I’ve omitted the word ‘West’ from my vocabulary,” says a lot. Heusgen argues that there is no longer a division between East and West, but only between states that comply with international law, the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and states that violate these principles. In Heusgen’s view, the principles resulting from those above are universal and not restricted to the West. Der Spiegel journalists do not ask questions that would allow us to understand the breadth of the German diplomat’s understanding of human rights, but it is easy to guess that this is not a narrow interpretation, as the very conservative Polish circles would like.

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Later in the conversation, the German diplomat stated that the countries that treated the international system with disdain in the years he advised Angela Merkel were Russia, China and the United States during the rule of Donald Trump. He describes the United States during the era of the former president as a “diplomatic chaos” and stresses on this occasion that the main reason for the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan was Agreement signed between them and the Trump administrationWhich the Americans never allowed a legitimate government in Kabul.

Heusgen stated that Germany’s 2015 opening to refugees was instrumental in improving the country’s reputation, although at the same time he makes clear that Germany now prefers to help people who want to improve their fortunes in their home countries rather than open borders. in addition to.

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel notes that Germany has not yet completed the process of transforming economic power into political power, but considers that the above must be done, especially since the partners expect leadership from Germany.

Russia, China and Ukraine

Regarding Russia, Heusgen says that Moscow, unlike Beijing, is completely indifferent to what it thinks about it (“For China, reputation matters, and Russia is completely indifferent even if it loses a vote in the UN General Assembly by a vote of 120 to 5”).

The German diplomat states that the only way to dialogue with regimes such as those in Russia or China is to be harsh at the same time, but also to be a dialogue, and he explicitly criticizes the sharpening of American rhetoric towards China, explaining that treating China only as a competitor (and not a partner and competitor) will not You do something, and the volume of trade will not fall excessively anyway, because the economies are already closely interconnected.

When the German diplomat was asked about Ukraine, he said directly that Germany had taken into account from the beginning the fact that Russia would never accept the Ukrainian pro-Western course. Therefore, despite pressure from the United States, they refused to offer Ukraine the possibility of NATO membership. However, Heusgen goes further and says that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement does not offer Kiev “any prospect of EU membership”. The fact that Ukraine has no real chance of joining the European Union (not to mention NATO) is indeed a trifle, but it is not a cliché that the old chancellor of the German chancellor directly mentions the above.

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Heusgen adds that the chancellor has always taken into account what Russia is willing to tolerate in its Ukraine policy. Taking into account the fact that the probability of a fundamental change in German foreign policy is zero, so it must be assumed that the eastern border of Poland is the eastern border of the European Union and will remain so in the coming years (or decades).

Referring to the EU’s foreign policy, Heusgen stated that his golden age falls on the period headed by Javier Solana, ie 20 years ago, and adds that currently most countries are not ready to hand over more powers to Brussels.

Conclusions for Poland

From Heusgen’s words, given the role he has played and will continue to play, and because his way of thinking represents the German elite that shapes Berlin’s foreign policy, many conclusions can be drawn from the Polish political elite, while both PiS and the opposition.

  1. Most likely, Berlin will not join the American crusade against Beijing, but it will also not ignore the offensive actions of China (such as attempts to seize European high-tech companies). Germany’s policy toward China is likely to be similar to that toward Russia, with Berlin, on the one hand, pushing capitals like Rome, Madrid or Lisbon to maintain sanctions against Moscow for attacking Ukraine, and on the other, Implementing the Nord Stream 2 project. Therefore, the policy of Germany will not be clear, and in order to be in line with our interests, it will be necessary to maintain close, friendly, but at the same time firm relations with Berlin. Bad relations, as well as excessive enthusiasm for Berlin, will not allow Poland to settle anything.
  2. German-American relations will evolve into an ever greater partnership. Hence, tensions will appear in these relationships every now and then. However, from Warsaw’s point of view, it would be wrong to assume (it happened once during the Berlin-Washington crisis during Donald Trump’s presidency) that these tensions would break the alliance between Berlin and Washington. Berlin will remain the most important partner of the United States in Europe, next to London.
  3. Berlin is aware of its own strength and sooner or later it will be reflected in its foreign policy. Power in foreign policy is a derivative not from the individual’s will to have power, but from economic potential and relations with other countries. And the worse the relations, the weaker the position of a particular country in foreign policy.
  4. Human rights will be a permanent feature of German foreign policy. Assuming that Poland might be part of the West and not recognize some of these rights in a situation where both Berlin and Washington recognize these rights as universal is a mistake we will pay for in a very concrete way.
  5. Germany may pressure Poland over the fate of the refugees (such as taking children to the border with Belarus), but it will not demand the border be opened, as it did in 2015.
  6. Poland should rethink the idea it has about eastern policy not only towards Ukraine, but also towards Belarus. For example, attempts to remove Belarus from the Russian sphere of influence will not be supported by Berlin, and therefore also by the European Union.
  7. Poland must begin to normalize relations with Moscow, because Moscow – regardless of all its shortcomings – will remain a partner of our partners.
  8. The possibility of “Europeanization” of security, given the fact that even in Berlin no one takes “European” foreign policy seriously, is a very slim possibility and is also a dangerous delusion.
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