Germany The German election will also resolve the relationship with Russia – this is how experts assess Merkel’s successors

Greens’ Annalena Baerbock has demanded a clearer Russia line from the CDU’s Armin Laschet and the rejection of the Nordstream project.

20.4. 14:39


Is German Chancellor Angela Merkelin, 66, a Conservative candidate seeking to succeed Armin Laschet, 60, a suspiciously close friend with Russia?

Laschetin the candidature was confirmed on Tuesday after a long race. German the greens named you on monday as a candidate Annalena Baerbockin, 40. In all likelihood, either of them is the next German leader. The election of Christian Democrat CDU leader Laschet in the September election would be a minor surprise.

Laschet has a feature that is also important outside Germany.

He has reaped a questionable reputation for his relationship with Russia.

In January, it was noted that he did not condemn the opposition politician Alexei Navalnyin arrest in Russia with a swift public statement. He has warned against demonizing the Russian president Vladimir Putinia, after talking about the occupation of Crimea in 2014 or Russia ‘s involvement in the Syrian war.

Now Laschet has to struggle for an election victory with the Greens, and Baerbock has already had time to demand an explanation from Laschet for Russia’s positions.

Annalena Baerbock was elected Chancellor of the Greens on Monday.­

Baerbock said in January In an interview with Der Spiegelthat the next federal government must have a strong pro-European foreign policy profile and a critical attitude towards authoritarian states. According to Baerbock, the CDU is too quiet and compliant with Russia.

He also demanded that Laschet suspend the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project. The requirement is also part of the Greens’ election goals.

The foreign policy debate on the elections is still ahead and the CDU / CSU program has not yet been published. The CSU is the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.

German the international importance of the Federal Chancellor is great. Until now, the Chancellor has been the strongest power holder from fiscal policy to EU immigration policy, so the choice is of great importance to the entire EU, including Finland.

As Chancellor, Merkel is an important link between Europe and Russia and enjoys Putin’s respect. The election of the German Chancellor is also important for the development of EU-Russia relations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in January 2020.­

HS asked two German international policy experts to assess the international and European political influence of the Federal Chancellor candidates.

An expert on Russian relations like Merkel will not be available to Germany, at least not immediately, says political scientist, Russia expert Stefan Meister.

Stefan Meister­

Stefan Meister estimates that Laschet seeks to build relations with Russia primarily from a business perspective, opportunistically. Laschet would therefore probably think of Germany’s economic interest first and foremost in its relations with Russia.

German support for the completion of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline project would hardly change under Laschet’s leadership.

According to the master, Laschet has little experience with Russia, which would make him have to rely heavily on his assistants. Their choice will therefore be relevant if Laschet becomes Chancellor.

“Surely he would try to reduce confrontation,” Meister estimated. It depends on Russia how it would work.

It would be different for Baerbock. If the Greens were to rise to the German government, it would have a very big impact on Germany-Russia and thus on EU-Russia relations, Meister points out.

The impact would, of course, be even greater if Baerbock became Chancellor.

The Greens are calling for a tougher policy towards Russia than the CDU / CSU’s current government partner, the SPD, has called for.

Master according to Germany, the new Federal Chancellor does not automatically have a respected position in the eyes of Russia. It is clear to him that Russia would not easily admit a new Chancellor.

“The Kremlin will test him,” he tells HS from Tbilisi.

Meister points out that the new Chancellor Merkel was also intimidated by Putin, for example, by suddenly letting her dog into a meeting room in 2007. As early as 2006, Putin donated a soft toy dog ​​to Merkel. It was common knowledge that Merkel was afraid of dogs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Sochi in January 2007. Putin’s dog was unexpectedly released into the room while photographers were present.­

Testing can also be about providing financial cooperation or compromises.

“It will not be easy for the new Chancellor, because there is no special relationship between Russia and Germany.”

On the contrary, German-Russian relations are now at a standstill due to, among other things, the Russian hacking into the German Bundestag, the Berlin park murder and the case of Alexei Navalny.

One step in testing could also be to throw political foundations out of Russia or make it harder for German journalists to work in Russia, Meister estimates.

“NGOs are already being monitored and can be shut down,” he says. According to the master, Putin’s provocation can go a long way.

“It’s happening now Joe Biden with. The main issue in the Ukrainian military operation is that Biden has proposed a discussion to Putin. “

According to Meister, Merkel’s direct relationship with the Kremlin and appreciation in the Kremlin are based, among other things, on Merkel’s knowledge of the Russian language and Merkel’s very good understanding of how Russian politics works. The same cannot be said of Laschet, he said.

Another International policy expert interviewed by HS Markus Kaimin According to Laschet, not much can be said about European policy. Laschet is a former MEP whose heart beats for Europe.

“That’s what many say. What it really means in terms of indebtedness, defense or the China relationship, we cannot know. ”

According to HS, Laschet was a strong backbone in the process leading to the resignation of Hungary’s leading party, Fidesz, from the center-right EPP group in the European Parliament.

What comes to Germany in a traditionally important transatlantic relationship, Laschet probably represents the classical German line of the CDU. First comes Europe, then transatlantic. But he has no experience with it.

Stefan Meister points out that both the United States and Germany need each other. Now in the air is the opportunity offered by US Joe Biden to build a transatlantic counterweight to Russia and China.

That opportunity may be missed by Germany. It also contributes to the EU’s policy towards China.

What does it mean that someone with a fairly thin experience of international relations will take over the German leadership anyway? SPD candidate Olaf Scholz as well as the green candidate Baerbock are also national level actors.

Markus Kaim thinks for a long time.

“It is expected that the German Chancellor will initially focus on the interest rate crisis and the domestic economy. His first priorities are not international. ”

It could have an impact on the dynamics of the EU’s external relations. Germany’s active grip in international arenas may weaken momentarily compared to the recent one.

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