Germany is still struggling to find its role in the world. But what does the world want from Germany? From Washington to Warsaw, Beijing to Brussels, many are wondering where Berlin’s foreign policy is headed.
On Nov. 7, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gave a keynote speech in Munich. After nearly four months in office, she wanted to present her ideas for German foreign and security policy.
The leader of Germany’s conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) didn’t select Munich arbitrarily. This was the city where, five years ago, another keynote address caused a stir well beyond Germany. In that speech, President Joachim Gauck outlined a more active German foreign policy and called for the country to intervene “earlier, more decisively and more substantially.” He said, “Germany must also be ready to do more to guarantee the security that others have provided it with for decades.”
Now, Kramp-Karrenbauer is again discussing a more active role in the world for her country. She argues that Berlin often waits too long for other countries to solve problems that also affect Germany.
When it comes to foreign policy, the German government has shown itself to be paralyzed…
“Germany is still feared as a hegemon in the EU,” says Waldemar Czachur, an expert on German-Polish relations at the University of Warsaw. For the national conservatives, the Germans used to be a nation of revisionists who sought dominance in the EU in order to subjugate Eastern Europe. Today, they fear German liberalism. Germany is regarded as the hegemon of an EU that has forgotten its identity — one that shows contempt for family, faith and nation, yet propagates gay marriage, feminism and climate protection while also wanting to accept masses of migrants.
But the impending Brexit, and the U.S.’ pivot away from Europe, have weakened Poland’s anti-German sentiment. Warsaw has now understood that it can no longer rely on Trump’s America as it once did.
Poland is now being pushed back toward Europe. This gives the EU — and Germany — new meaning…
The world is waiting for Germany. The country’s partners and other actors on the geopolitical stage alike are waiting for the long twilight of the Merkel era to end and for Germany to find itself again.