Friday, 16 May 2008

Germany: two foreign policies

According to one commentator, Germany currently has two foreign policies, one conducted by the conservative Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the other conducted by the Social Democrat Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. On her visit to Latin America, Chancellor Merkel visited only countries with pro-American governments, Steinmeier has been strengthening Germany’s links to Cuba; Steinmeier visits Moscow and refuses to meet the Dalai Lama while Merkel has aligned with George Bush and calls for the spread of democracy around the planet.

The Foreign Ministry under Steinmeier has become distinctly left wing (following the precedents set by the last Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, for whom Steinmeier worked at the Chancellery. (He was head of the Chancellor’s office under Schröder.) The Chancellor’s office, meanwhile, has become distinctly conservative. This is because the coalition agreement between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats did not require that each side recruit civil servants from the other’s political camp: as a result, they have recruited their own. (Senior civil servants in Germany have party political affiliation.) The competition between the two sides is made more acute by the possibility that Steinmeier might be Merkel’s opponent in the parliamentary election in 2009. [Andreas Rinke, Handelsblatt, 11 May 2008]

---- An excerpt from John Laughland's Intelligence Digest. For a free e-mail subscription to the Intelligence Digest, please click here ----

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