The Brief, powered by Goldman Sachs – Ukraine is litmus test for Scholz’s new foreign policy – EURACTIV.com
In an emerging multipolar world, Germany will have to be more assertive in defending European and transatlantic values. Whether new Chancellor Olaf Scholz will live up to it, however, remains to be seen, and early signs are not too promising.
The current military build-up on the Ukrainian border, one of the main topics of discussion at tomorrow’s European Council meeting, will be the first opportunity for Scholz to prove that he is capable of taking a hard stance on from Russia. Her statements so far, however, point more to continuity with Angela Merkel’s cautious approach to foreign policy.
When Merkel took office in 2005, the hypothesis of the looming âend of historyâ and the inevitability of a global democratic triumph was still alive in the minds of European policymakers and leaders.
Today, with the rise of China and an increasingly revisionist Russia, there is no doubt that “history” has returned and the world is entering an era of renewed international geopolitical competition.
For Russia, the writing on the wall has been there since the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, but Merkel has continued her conciliatory approach, reaching out to Putin and his underlings so as not to take Russia away from the community. transatlantic.
This was especially noticeable in its approach to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, where it cooperated tirelessly with the Kremlin much to the annoyance of the United States and France.
Germany has often taken advantage of American security: leave unpleasant diplomatic and military pressures on Russia in the United States, while Germany remains open to bringing Russia back to the negotiating table.
However, with Washington shifting its focus eastwards, Europe needs a more resolute German approach to Russia than ever before.
Already in 2011, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski declared: âI am less afraid of German power than I am beginning to fear German inactivity.
And indeed, the initial statements of Scholz and his SPD foreshadow the same in relations with Russia.
Her comments on Nord Stream 2, for example, are very similar to Merkel’s. He said Ukraine’s energy security would be a concern for his government, but refrained from taking a clear stance on the issue.
The Scholz administration is even considering adopting the foreign policy approach of the former SPD chancellor Willy Brandt, who defined Germany’s ânew eastern policyâ in the 1970s and formed the basis for the rapprochement with the USSR.
SPD foreign policy spokesperson Nils Schmid has already pointed out in an interview with IPG last week that the new government’s foreign policy will largely resemble Brandt’s approach to peace.
If this policy of rapprochement and the emphasis on peace worked in the 1970s, they are downright dangerous in an increasingly hostile environment where Russia is working to readjust European borders in its favor.
With the United States concerned about China, Europe needs a Germany that takes a tougher stance on Russia and draws red lines to ensure European security, instead of pushing for more. rapprochement with the Kremlin.
Stay tuned to EURACTIV to see what approach Scholz takes when he debuts in the EU on Thursday.