With voters from the 28 EU member states casting ballots on May 23-26 to elect their representatives for the European Parliament, political forces across the bloc have been pitching their programs to the public and trading mutual accusations. Voting begins on Thursday, starting with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and continues over four days. German Chancellor Angela Merkel hails the upcoming vote as “special,” and of “great importance.” However, even though the election campaign is in full swing now, its internal intensity and unpredictability are something mainly the participants and experts are really interested in. What is the balance of forces, public expectations, fears and new trends characterizing the situation ahead of Thursday’s vote – the ninth parliamentary election since the first direct elections were held in 1979?
There are eight factions and political groups in the 751-strong European Parliament. Eighteen MEPs are independents. According to May 18 opinion polls,:
– The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) is expected to garner 168-178 seats (minus 43-48 seats)
– The center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) is projected to get 151-153 (minus 35-38),
– The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the “En Marche!” movement of French President Emmanuel Macron – 102-104 seats (plus 34-37).
– The EU-sceptics are spearheaded by the Matteo Salvini bloc (European Alliance of Peoples and Nations, EAPN), previously known as “Europe of Nations and Freedoms” (ENF) – between 70 and 82 seats (plus 34-45),
– European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) – between 60 and 61 seats (minus 9-17).
– The group of Euro-sceptics of the 5 Stars Movement and the Brexit Party (formerly Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, EFDD) – between 45 and 49 seats (plus 3-7).
– Moderate euro-sceptics from the “European United Left” – 50-52 (could lose up to 2 seats).
– European Greens/Free European Alliance (Greens/EFA) – 55-56 seats (plus 4-5).
– And, finally, new party candidates and independents can count on 49-52 seats (plus 28).
Centrists are believed to win 395 seats, right-wingers – 208 seats, left-wingers – 123 mandates, with 25 seats expected to go to the independents. According to many experts, pro-European candidates could win about 468 seats, “euro-sceptics”, with their ever-changing ideological “base” – around 256 seats, with the independents expected to end up with 27 seats. In the 2014 elections “euro-sceptics” accounted for about a third of all MEPs (250 deputies). Five years ago, the opponents of an overcentralized European Union managed to “more than double” their membership in the European Parliament.
The overarching agenda of this week’s vote hasn’t changed for more than six months now, and reflects a rapid decline in the people’s confidence in the traditional European parties and their ability to adequately address the domestic and external challenges the EU is facing today. European voters are worried by the current erosion of their countries’ national independence, Brussels’ migration policy, the economic slowdown and growing social inequality, and what they perceive as unfair distribution of the benefits of globalization. Finally, anti-immigrant rhetoric has strengthened the hand of political forces that until recently had little, if any, chances of challenging the mainstream political parties.
Public trust in the leaders of the traditional political forces that dominated the European Parliament during the past decades has hit the rock bottom, with the future of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which is the largest faction in the European Parliament (217 seats), thrown in doubt by Angela Markel’s announced departure from big-time politics in 2021. During the course of the election campaign, the EPP has failed to find a middle ground amid the ever-heating debates between liberals and nationalists. The EPP leaders’ attempts to avoid taking a clear ideological stand only added to their voters’ disillusionment and even resulted in some of them joining the “euro-sceptics”, liberals or social democrats. Seeing the failure of their efforts to resist the “populists,” the EPP shifted their political agenda to the “right,” grudgingly adopting, though in a softer way, some of the ideas espoused by the “euro-sceptics.”
As for the center-left Party of European Socialists (PES), which has traditionally ranked second in the number of seats they hold in the European Parliament (currently 189), remains torn between the desire to preserve its image of a defender of the “welfare state” and the need to convince voters of its the ability to address the most acute problems now facing Europe. By the end of April, the Social Democrats had managed to appease, at least for now, their voters who blame the party for the migrant crisis of the past few years. In addition, the formal consolidation of the “nationalists,” coupled with the public disappointment with the half-measures proposed by President Macron in response to the “yellow jackets” protests even won the center-leftists several potential seats in the European Parliament.
The election campaign by liberals and “euro-optimists” produced mixed results: on the one hand, they could significantly increase the size of membership in the European Parliament (by 34 seats), and become the third largest faction there. The united liberal faction, Emmanuel Macron is staking on could, under certain circumstances, get a “controlling stake in the EP whose support would be crucial in cobbling together a large pro-European coalition in the EP. On the other hand, Macron’s stated desire to invest the pan-European institutions with a new quality (see his March 5 address to European voters), apparently failed to impress EU voters. Macron’s March 5 address thus could give his supporters just two or three potential seats in the EP. Although apparently succeeding in mobilizing the traditional left-and right-centrists, Emmanuel Macron has hardly managed to win over at least some of the representatives of the new European right. It is highly unlikely that, with the situation developing as it is, the liberals will be able to form a faction in the European Parliament large enough for their leader to claim the post of European Commission President.
Meanwhile, the situation in the euro-sceptic camp is equally paradoxical with Italy’s “nationalist” Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini leading the coalition of opponents of an increasingly centralized European Union. Early this year, Salvini, who is also the leader of the “far-right” League party, floated the idea of “reformatting Europe” by creating an electoral coalition of “sovereignists” and “populists,” including in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to Matteo Salvini’s League Party, the coalition of “right-wing populists” includes the Austrian Freedom Party, the French National Rally led by Marine Le Pen, the Alternative for Germany Party, the Finns Party, and the Flemish Interest Party in Belgium, as well as a bevy of smaller parties from Bulgaria, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Estonia. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s national conservative Fidesz Party is considering joining the coalition in the event of its expulsion from the European People’s Party faction after the elections. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party could also join in. Such a coalition could theoretically pose a challenge, at least to Macron’s “globalists,” but could it possibly turn the European Parliament into a place where “euro-sceptics” would call the shots?
The past month has seen Salvini’s supporters potentially increase their seats in the EP by another 10 to 15, even despite the League’s waning popularity at home. The euro-sceptics’ weak point, however, is the diversity of their political platforms. The opponents or a more centralized EU are a patchwork of nationalists, separatists, populists, and radicals of every hue. They are divided on many things, including the EU policy towards Russia. In addition, becoming a part of “the power pyramid” “inevitably increases internal differentiation, centrifugal tendencies, and even splits.”
Finally, as soon as they come to power, the onetime oppositionists are inevitably confronted with public political responsibilities they are not used to bear, as well as temptations of their newly acquired high status. This is exactly what happened to the Austrian Freedom Party. May 18, it was announced that its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, was resigning as the country’s vice-chancellor amid a scandal. The accusations against the Freedom Party leadership over their alleged corruption has resulted in new elections and could undermine the “ultra-right” parties’ chances in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament.
Of much attention to observers was the personal struggle waged throughout the election campaign by Emmanuel Macron and Matteo Salvini for riding the wave of public discontent with the establishment – a struggle the euro-sceptic Salvini is very likely to win. However, the most organized “right-wing populists” will hardly be able to prevail over the conservatives and social democrats when it comes to the number of their members serving in the next European Parliament. Therefore, all the “euro-sceptics” and “populists” can hope for is a split in the right-centrists’ camp after the elections. As for Macron, he can count on fortifying his positions in the new European Parliament.
Finally, the situation around Britain’s exit from the EU also factored in the election campaign, with a delayed Brexit and London’s dithering over a second Brexit referendum adding potential votes to pro-European parties (a potential “plus” of between 18 and 20 mandates) as well as to “populists” and “euro-sceptics” (a combined addition of between 30 and 35 mandates). Simultaneously, in the pro-European camp, the delayed Brexit has played into the hands of the Social Democrats and liberals, while undermining the chances of the European People’s Party. The endless postponements of Brexit have also undermined public support for the idea of some countries leaving the EU, while adding credence to the idea of just giving individual EU states greater control over the activities of the European bureaucracy.
As a result, public opinion polls released ahead of Thursday’s vote predict the end of the decades-long predominance of the two largest factions – Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, and the formation of an even more fragmented European Parliament. There is a growing danger of European politics returning to the “confrontational model” of the past. If this happens, it would erode the European Parliament’s political weight, further undermine the efficiency of its legislative work, its ability to take quick decisions and coordinate long-term, strategic initiatives, thus diluting their essence.
With all this being said, the “euro-sceptics” could still be able to strengthen their positions and even win over a third of the seats in the EP, which would allow them to block decisions by a qualified majority. However, their potential coalition will be rather shaky, first in view of the UK MEPs’ likely departure and, secondly, due to the need to preserve unity in their own ranks, represented by a growing number of parties and movements critical of the EU. For their part, the pro-European forces have good chances of retaining their formal majority in the EP, but with their three core factions carrying almost equal political weight, this could lead to increased frictions in the way they will be handling hot-button issues. Including who will head the European Commission, and budgetary issues. Therefore, the most likely outcome of this all will be a compromise, half-hearted decisions, fraught with further disorganization of the EU policy and its fragmentation along national and regional lines.
First published in our partner International Affairs
The Prisoner of Geography: Orbán’s perception of geographical pragmatism
Between the beginning of September and the end of November 2019, the Hungarian government has received an exceptionally high number of foreign officials. Among others, Viktor Orbán’s cabinet has hosted Aleksandar Vučić Serbian, Andrej Babiš Czech, Peter Pellegrini Slovak, and Antti Rinne Finnish prime ministers as well as received Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Charles Michel, the new elected President of the European Council. Besides the highest level, the five foreign ministers of Turkic Council have also been hosted, while after six years of demonstrative absence, the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has also paid a visit to Budapest.
Even though the visits of Mr. Maas and Charles Michel received less enthusiastic media coverage, the Hungarian government regarded all meetings with special attention. Besides tide security and traffic restrictions, the high regard has also included the introduction of a new political rhetoric which maintained the most important frameworks of Hungarian foreign policy but added a new interpretation based on geographical pragmatism. The new discourse characterized the joint press conferences given respectively by Viktor Orbán and the Russian and Turkish counterparts where the Hungarian PM presented his foreign policy as an approach driven by the unchangeable conditions of geographical realities. As Mr. Orbán described it to Vladimir Putin, “the basis of our political cooperation is a very simple geographical fact, that no country can change its house number”. According to Mr. Orbán, the geographical conditions of Hungary tie Budapest to the Berlin–Moscow–Ankara triangle which geopolitical environment determines the potentials of Hungarian foreign policy.
Although the geographical explanation is not a new feature in the rhetoric of Hungarian foreign policy, the importance of Germany, and generally the West, was deliberately ignored in recent years. Since the visit of Angela Merkel in August 2019, this trend has begun to change. While the Russian and Turkish friendly approach remained to be a crucial part of the Hungarian foreign policy, Mr. Orbán seems to rebalance the relations and attempts to normalize partnerships with the West, and particularly with Germany. If the rebalancing continues, Hungary could turn back to the original frameworks of the Global Opening foreign policy that attempted to find a delicate balance between the West and the rest.
The shifting balance of Global Opening
Since coming to power in 2010, Viktor Orbán and his FIDESZ party have made significant changes in the Hungarian foreign policy. The Atlantist or Westernizer approach was supplemented by the doctrine of Global Opening which diversified Hungary’s previously EU-, US- and NATO-based foreign policy and aimed to reduce unilateral dependence on the West. The original framework of this new foreign policy direction first redirected Hungary’s attention towards the global East (2010) and then the global South (2015). The often-criticized approach, according to the official explanation, was meant to respond to the new global trends and intended to channel the Hungarian economy into the seemingly skyrocketing developing markets. The new strategy made efforts to establish cooperation with globally (Russia, China) and regionally (Turkey) significant countries and also resulted in a more active and sometimes more confrontational foreign policy towards neighbouring countries.
Though the original, economy-oriented idea of Global Opening did not aim to divert the country from its traditional Euro-Atlantic direction, domestic illiberal measures, friendly relations with Russia and the anti-EU rhetoric automatically generated antagonistic feelings among Hungary’s Western allies. The growing Western criticism and the FIDESZ’s harsh responses to it further deepened the disputes, and, by 2016-2018, pushed the increasingly isolated Hungarian government towards Moscow and Ankara. While Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became frequent guests in Budapest, the Sargentini report condemned the Hungarian government over the violation of basic European values and the European People’s Party suspended FIDESZ’s membership. Relations reached the lowest point during the campaign of the 2019 European Parliamentary election when many from the EU centre labelled the FIDESZ as a far-right and even a fascist party, and when the Hungarian government accelerated its anti-EU, Stop Brussels campaign.
Damage control and rebalancing
The European Parliamentary elections in May and the Hungarian local elections in October 2019 turned out to be crucial milestones as the FIDESZ suffered serious, though not fatal, setbacks. On the European level, the assumed breakthrough of the populist parties remained to be an illusion, while on the local level, the Hungarian opposition parties gained majorities in ten major cities, including Budapest. On one hand, these developments pushed FIDESZ towards a more cooperative attitude and altered both domestic and external strategies. On the other hand, certain members of the EU and NATO have also begun to change their tone and seemed to realize the potential danger of Hungary’s isolation. As part of the correction process, Donald Trump briefly hosted Viktor Orbán at the White House in May and Angela Merkel travelled to Hungary in August. The chancellor’s visit soon was followed by the reciprocated visits of Hungarian and German foreign ministers and high-level consultations with EU officials. By the summer of 2019, the domestic communication of the Hungarian government has also begun to change and started to cease the anti-EU campaigns.
While the above-mentioned visits and meetings are signalling a new willingness to engage in a dialogue, Hungary and its Western allies are still divided by significant differences. In this sense, Budapest seems to publicly acknowledge the improvement of bilateral, state-to-state relations but shows reluctance to admit Hungary’s dependence on the EU. At the same time, the vast framework of EU itself hinders the rapprochement process. Although Angela Merkel’s realpolitik recognized the need for normalization, others from the various commissions and parliament fractions still consider the FIDESZ as a traitor or a Trojan horse. These controversial responses significantly influence the Hungarian domestic and foreign policy rhetoric which rejects harsh criticism with even harsher reactions. Even though the already difficult situation is further complicated by political and ideological differences on issues such as migration and asylum-seeking, Ursula von der Leyen seems to be ready to move on and begin with a fresh start. The incoming president of the European Commission showed her determination by nominating the FIDESZ delegated OlivérVárhelyi to the post of Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner, a position which was highly appreciated by the Hungarian government and was eventually approved by the European Parliament.
The Hungarian prime minister has a reputation of adopting theoretical interpretations for the legitimization of his practical policies. In recent years, he quoted Hungarian authors (e.g. Sándor Karácsony) when explaining his governance techniques or recalled Fareed Zakaria’s concept when outlining frameworks of illiberal democracy. Like the previous examples, the new foreign policy rhetoric also seems to resemble authors of international politics, mainly from the fields of geopolitics. Coincidence or not, especially Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography has interesting similarities with the recent rhetoric Mr. Orbán has used. As in Marshall’s book, emphasizing the importance of physical realities, indicating the determining effects of geography or stressing the geopolitical laws of power all became part of the recent interpretations and defined Mr. Orbán’s speeches at bilateral press conferences. The new rhetoric justified the Hungarian developments through geographic pragmatism and by the recognition of geopolitical realities that position Hungary in the overlapping area of German, Russian and Turkish sphere of influences. As the prime minister put it, “…the reality is that to the left of us there’s the land of the German iron chancellors, to the right the Slavic military peoples, and down south the vast population masses of Islam. Hungary lives its life within this triangle, and within this geographical region it has been the task of governments down the centuries to create balance, to create peace and security, and for us to build relations in all three directions, so that the three capital cities and the three powers which are so much larger than us have an interest in the success of Hungary.”
While Orbán’s new interpretation seems to realize how the normalization of German-Hungarian relations could support this vision of success, it maintained the original ideas of Global Opening and aims to keep solid relations with Russia and Turkey. Though the prime minister marked the line by including Berlin to the triangle of regional powers, he also stated that not dreams or philosophies will determine “who in the world we like the most” rather the geographical realities. According to Mr. Orbán, besides Germany, Russia and Turkey are also parts of the greater geographical environment of Hungary, consequently, the country’s foreign policy should acknowledge their decisive role and must maintain pragmatic relations with them. In terms of security, the pragmatic relations mean closer ties and cooperation with NATO members such as Germany and Turkey, while it also comprises a policy of conflict prevention which helps to avoid bilateral disputes between Hungary and Russia. According to Mr. Orbán, the decisive role of regional powers also includes dominant economic performance that has to be respected and exploited by Hungary. On one hand, as a small Central European state with limited material resources, Hungary needs the energy supplies, the financial and industrial investments, or the high-technology and military equipment that these regional centres could offer. On the other hand, Hungary may offer various benefits in return. The country’s strategic location with valuable memberships positions, the relatively cheap but skilled labour, or the increasing purchasing power are just a few examples to prove the possible benefits of foreign investors. The recently announced military modernization of the Hungarian Armed Forces is another major example: beyond Germany, Turkey and Russia, Trump’s transactional diplomacy also seeks to get a piece from the large military tenders.
The limits of balancing
Besides benefits, geographic pragmatism and balancing foreign policy have their limits too. It is highly questionable, for instance, what members of the Berlin–Moscow–Ankara triangle think about each other and, maybe more importantly, how they see the Hungarian peacock dance in the middle of the triangle. In this sense, Mr. Orbán’s recent foreign policy statements were directed not only towards the domestic audience but to the regional partners as well. Though the statements presented Hungary as a country that maintains strategic partnerships with both the West and the East, in reality, conflicting interests significantly constrain the options of balancing. Germany, for example, is highly concerned about the growing Russian influence in Hungary and considers it as a security breach and a politicoeconomic mistake. According to this view, the relocation of previously Moscow-based International Investment Bank, the construction of Paks 2 nuclear power plant or the recently signed long-term gas contract with GAZPROM could be labelled as perfect examples of such mistakes. Besides Russia, Budapest has also troubles to explain friendly relations with Turkey who is condemned by the EU for launching the contradictory Operation of Peace Spring. In this case too, Hungary pursued a contrasting strategy: it conditionally supported Turkey’s actions and even vetoed the EU’s draft resolution that was jointly prepared to condemn Ankara. Although the veto was re-evaluated later, it showed how difficult is to play in two teams at the same time.
The Hungarian behaviour during the days of Operation Peace Spring also demonstrates those ideological differences that further constrain Mr. Orbán’s geographic pragmatism. While the Hungarian government has no ethical dilemmas to oppose the implementation of illiberal models, the country’s Western allies feel moral obligations to condemn domestic developments in Russia, Turkey or Hungary. These Western allies consider Hungarian domestic developments as being incompatible with the basic principles of European values and regard Hungary’s close ties with Russia and Turkey as a partnership that could undermine the unity of EU or NATO. The Hungarian government, however, has different interpretations. In the case of Russia, it considers Moscow as part of the wider European geopolitical environment, as a Great Power who influence the Central European matters either Hungary likes it or not. As the indispensable Russian influence may be exploited by balancing foreign policy, the regional impacts of Turkey can be also utilized. In this regard, the Hungarian government views Ankara as a key actor in migration and urges the EU to open closer cooperation with Turkey to prevent new influxes of asylum-seekers.
A unique example or the victim of circumstances?
The key question at this point is whether balancing Hungarian foreign policy will produce positive results or fail to find the middle ground between the conflicting interests of regional powers. Hungary seems to be an exceptional example, yet other countries in the region face similar dilemmas. Their responses usually follow two not too distinct path: either trying to serve the needs of all regional powers or limiting the interests of one by using the influence of another. The choice between these two options is further complicated by the wider geopolitical transformations. From the Central European perspective, especially the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts are problematic as these globally defining struggles have increased disagreements among regional powers and boosted their external activities. With such developments, Central European states have found themselves in a difficult position of contradictory expectations. On one side of the region, there is Moscow and Ankara, both have begun to look for weak links and been practising hardly refusable policies to influence smaller members of the EU. On the other side, there is the EU and Washington, both expect a much clearer stand on democratic values, Western principles and generally a much stronger commitment to maintaining the alliance unity.
In these kinds of circumstances, it is quite difficult to find a win-win situation. As Tim Marshall put it, “Geography has always been a prison of sorts – one that defines what a nation is or can be, and one from which our world leaders have often struggled to break free.” Nevertheless, Central European states have always found their limited yet flexible ways to navigate between regional powers and their contradictory interests. It seems Hungary has also developed a path which we may call by various names – geographic pragmatism, Global Opening or balancing foreign policy – at the end all mean a survival strategy between the West, the East and the South. One should wonder, however, is it the survival strategy of Hungary or just those who lead it?
Is North Macedonia good enough for NATO but not good for the EU? How to salvage the relations
At the NATO Summit today, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg was asked a question by a North Macedonian journalist in the context of North Macedonia’s debut this week as NATO’s newest member. Is North Macedonia good enough for NATO but not good enough for the EU?, is the questions that was lurking over the Summit. For an answer to this, we should look towards French President Emmanuel Macron.
Commentators and politicians alike, have loudly pointed to the Macron veto of Albania and North Macedonia as a mistake.
Getting no for an answer need not mean falling off the European map for them, however.
As EU’s political dialogue with Georgia seem to suggest, there are many layers of cooperation that fall just short of accession talks and prove to provide value for both sides. For Georgia, this is in the form of EU’s Eastern Partnership.
“Something similar to EU cooperation with Georgia could be a model for engagement with the Western Balkans”, told me journalist Georgi Gotev.
Western Balkan nations, due to their geographical belonging, and not only, have the right to feel different from and more European than Georgia and the rest of the East Partnership countries.
Nevertheless, the relationship the EU has built with Georgia shouldn’t be underestimated as a potential blueprint for bringing closer EU’s backyard called the Western Balkans which has the right to be offended.
The influence of Russia and China is prominent in both Georgia and the Western Balkans region which is one more reason not to allow the Western Balkans to drift away.
Georgia has trade agreements with both China and the EU. Similarly, China’s security influence is felt on the Western Balkans in Serbia where Chinese policemen are now patrolling in the country.
Georgia’s precarious security relationship with Russia sometimes takes the shape of full-blown war. For that and other reasons, a real dialogue for EU membership with Georgia is not really possible, despite Georgian enthusiasm. Displaying the EU flag is a common practice in Georgia.
Again with Western Balkan countries, one can see the EU flag being waved too, as a sign of political enthusiasm. And similar to Georgia, but to a much lesser extent, Russian political influence in some Western Balkan countries presents one reason for skepticism in opening accession talks.
All that does not mean that there are no mechanisms for the EU to engage the Western Balkans and to somehow salvage the shaken relationship.
For Tamar Chugoshvili, first vice-chair of the Georgian Parliament, EU’s Eastern Partnership has delivered. “Its results have been the Association Agreement, the Free Trade Agreement, and the visa-free movement”, she said. This is an engagement blueprint that could work for some Western Balkan countries.
Although an EU partnership involving labor movement at this point might be a stretch for Georgia and the Western Balkans alike, democracy and human rights dialogue needs to continue being a component of EU’s engagement. Apart from trade and tourism, the EU has still a lot to offer in terms of soft power and norm diffusion.
Finally, an important difference is that Georgia was never led on to believe it was coming close to accession talks for EU membership; that’s why expectations were always different. For Albania, but especially for North Macedonia which changed its official name as a prerequisite, disappointment and frustration are more than natural reactions.
So, a Georgian blueprint with an enhanced trade partnership might work for EU’s engagement provided Western Balkan countries overcome their resentment and swallow that bitter taste that Emmanuel Macron left in their mouth. For that to happen though, the EU would need to pour a whole lot of new water their way.
Annergret Kramp- Karrenbauer and her revolutionary foreign policy objectives for Germany
The end of Second World War followed by the collapse of Nazi Germany, US and its allies began to neutralize fascist elements and pressed on denazification (entzaifizieren) of the German society [to be honest the US and its allies have not done their home work properly to denazify the German society if they really denazified the society, we wouldn’t have had robust fascist elements, right extremists, AFD… in the German society today], the country hasn’t had a preponderate and independent foreign policy.
The country supposed to remain neutral and not to follow a self-determining foreign policy. The country’s foreign policy objectives have been chosen and dictated by Uncle Sam and Germany ought to pursue the footsteps of NATO in general and the United States in particular. Since, AKK turn out to be the leader of CDU a predominant political party of Germany and the defense minister, she is committed to announce a U-turn in the foreign policy of Germany, “however political observers believe that she violates the rules and acts beyond her jurisdiction, because any stride in the domain of foreign policy should be verified and ratified by the German parliament and ought to be implemented by the ministry of foreign affairs” moreover, for the first time in the entire recent history of the country, she transpired to call for strategic sovereignty.
She wants to expand the foreign deployment of German soldiers, according to the reports; such a revolutionary step could mean the accompaniment of military operation. AKK also craves to extend the use of army abroad. The defense force plans to train soldiers in Mali, in addition to the deployment of a German frigate in South China Sea, in the strait between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, in order to defend the strategic interests of Germany overseas. Although, the Chancellor’s office opts not to push ahead with such a deployment, arguing it could burden the relation of Germany with China.
Lately AKK proposed an international security zone with German military participation in the northern Syria, which seeks to be another diversification in the German foreign policy. However her generous motive followed back clashes, both inside and outside the country. Foreign minister Heiko Josef Maas strongly criticized her intent as a meddling factor in the foreign policy of German, of which objectives should be portrayed by foreign ministry not by defense ministry.
AKK newly announced, that Germany pledges to reach the NATO spending goal of 2 percent of economic output. This could be another major sign of German military engagement towards preserving the country’s strategic interests.
The unauthorized decisions of Trump and Erdogan in Syria, whose counties are the key members of the NATO could lead to subvert the foundation of the NATO treaty. When, in April 1949, 12 states joined on both sides of Atlantic to form the NATO defense alliance, they immediately stated one in the preamble to unite their efforts for common defense and for the maintenance of “peace and security”. According to the motto; single-handedness should be avoided. It is said, we are strong only when we are together. In fact, the NATO partners in the cold war generally followed their promises to confront former Soviet Union, which was supposed to be the number one geo-political adversary to the NATO.
But in our day, the cracks are emerging, while Turkey despite the warnings of the NATO other members, decided to reach a deal with Russia to purchase Russian made S-400 defense system. Furthermore, the country against the will of other NATO members launched offensive in northern Syria.
It seems that Turkish president’s cooperation with the NATO’s geo-strategic opponent was more important, than its western allies. It alerts NATO, that it loses one of its key geo-strategic partners, and the absence of Turkey from NATO causes to weaken NATO’s role on the Bosporus.
Additionally, Trump’s America another chief member of NATO, unilaterally decided to pull back 2000 troops from Syria, bringing a sudden end to a military campaign that largely vanquished the IS but ceding a strategically vital country to Russia and Iran. Moreover, Trump’s one-sided termination of JCPOA and annihilation of INF treaty without confirmation of the other members of NATO has put the NATO on the brink of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and Europe.
It is obvious that NATO can no longer secure the essential security interests of its member states due to diverging interests of its members. Once AKK said if NATO cannot protect the essential security interests of its members, then German must assume more responsibilities in the world, she added we need a strategy for resilient sovereignty in the Globe. She is fair enough because NATO is in an existential crisis, so Germany should be out there to shelter peace and security in the world.
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