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Russia and the European Union: Shall We Dispense with Summits?

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Another mini-scandal broke out in the European Union the other day. Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, perhaps impressed by the recent Geneva summit between the presidents of Russia and the United States, suggested to her EU partners that they think about inviting Vladimir Putin to the upcoming Euro summit. Indeed, if none other than Joe Biden deems it appropriate to extend his already prolonged European tour for a conversation with his Russian counterpart, then EU leaders should not lag behind their ally from across the pond. President of France Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz were quick to endorse the initiative. Judging by the response of Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary for the President of Russia, the Russian leadership was rather interested in such a meeting as well.

It would normally be safe to assume that such a powerful coalition in favour of a meeting of this kind means that a summit would be organized as soon as possible, promising a productive conversation. However, Angela Merkel’s proposal—predictably—did not satisfy everyone in Europe. The first to refuse to participate in the possible summit was Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who cited the ongoing investigation of the 2014 Malaysian Airlines plane crash in the east of Ukraine as the reason. The leaders of Lithuania and Latvia also opposed extending an invitation to Vladimir Putin to be immediately joined by the leaders of several Central European states that traditionally oppose any political dialogue with Moscow, in any forms and at any level.

Die-hard opponents of Vladimir Putin who do not tend to support seeking compromise were quick to point out that such a summit would be an unjustified gift to the Russian leader, one that he has clearly not deserved. Inviting Putin would send the “wrong signal” which could inspire Russia to carry out more “destructive acts” in Europe and around the world. There was talk of the German Chancellor making a “false start” by voicing her proposal right before discussions with other EU heads of states. Imposing new EU sanctions on Moscow was proposed as an alternative to a summit. Ultimately, Brussels failed to achieve a consensus, with the summit issue postponed until better times.

The kind of summit we do not need

To be fair, it was far from everyone in Russia who was enthusiastic about the idea of an EU summit either. Experts, analysts and politicians came out saying that inviting Putin to a summit would be like summoning an indolent student to a meeting with the school principal and teachers to be scolded for poor grades and bad behaviour. Russian “Euro-sceptics” hastened to remind people that Brussels’ long-proclaimed goal of achieving strategic autonomy from the United States has largely remained on paper; consequently, to meet indecisive, dependent and insecure European politicians would be a waste of time.

Pessimists noted once again that Russia and the European Union held 32 summits in the 20 years from 1995 to 2014, with two being held every year between 2000 and 2013. Yet, these numerous and rather officious events failed to resolve the many fundamental problems in Moscow–Brussels relations, nor to prevent the severe European security crisis in the spring and summer of 2014.

One thing is clear: neither Moscow nor Brussels needs another “ceremonial” summit. Such a summit, however, is an apparent impossibility, given the current state of affairs in Europe. Let us at least recall the dismal outcome of the visit that Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made to Moscow in February. Hardly anyone in the European Union or Russia would wish such an outcome for another visit, this time at the highest level. Amid the current situation, even a hypothetical breakthrough in some important dimension of bilateral relations is hard to envision, be it a liberalization of the visa regime, a cessation of the EU’s sanctions pressure on Moscow, a reduction in the intensity of information warfare, some advances in bolstering security in Europe or in any other area.

No particular opportunities for moving towards a meeting of minds regarding the political dimensions of the “common neighbourhood” can be seen either. In the near future, neither the East of Ukraine, nor Belarus, nor even the South Caucasus or Moldova will become shining examples of constructive interaction between Russia and the European Union. There are even fewer reasons to hope that such a summit will produce unified approaches to a new world order or at least to building a “greater Europe.” Russia will not accept any pan-European construct with the European Union at the centre and Russia in the position of a dependent “Eurasian periphery.” Brussels, in turn, will not agree to building “Greater Europe” on two interconnected pillars, since it does not consider the Eurasian Economic Union to be its equal.

But if the meeting’s agenda boils down to the ritualized exposition of the parties’ well-known stances on, say, Ukraine or Belarus, human rights or sovereignty, there is then no need to hold a summit. Such verbal spats can continue through the efforts of eloquent diplomats, sassy journalists, or MPs looking to make a name for themselves.

Nevertheless, I would think that an EU–Russia summit would be useful for the same reason that the U.S.–Russia summit in Geneva was. Summits between adversaries are needed as much as summits between allies. When relations between neighbours turn out to be mostly those of rivalry and, especially, of confrontation, summits allow the parties to decide on their mutual “red lines” and—once these are agreed on—to reduce the risks and costs of mutual deterrence.

Where do the “red lines” lie?

Russia’s “red lines” in its relations with the West are roughly clear, and they were delineated back in Geneva. Everything that Moscow perceives as an infringement on its sovereignty will be thwarted in the most severe and unequivocal form. It is up for debate whether Vladimir Putin is correct in opposing any attempt by the West to “internationalize” human rights issues, bring up questions about the role of political opposition or an independent judiciary and claim the part of a defender of dissenters and—more broadly—Russian civil society. Yet, this is the Kremlin’s current stance which is unlikely to change in the coming years. There is no ambiguity or hypocrisy here.

The EU’s “red lines” for Moscow, on the other hand, are drawn far more vaguely. Rather, they are drawn but they are too many for a realistic strategy to stand some chance of success. Brussels speaks far too often about the “unacceptable” actions or even potentially “unacceptable” actions of Moscow, whether relating to Ukraine, Syria, Belarus, Libya, Alexey Navalny, new lists of “undesirable organizations,” Moscow’s contacts with European right-wing populists or expulsions of EU diplomats from Moscow. Ultimately, it is extremely difficult—or well short of impossible—to understand the hierarchy of Europe’s multiple grievances, claims and complaints when it comes to Moscow.

When a formula is used too often and clearly to excess, it inevitably becomes devoid of meaning—if the European Union finds almost every domestic or international step (or potential step) the Kremlin makes to be unacceptable, then “red lines” merge into a single crimson field that has nothing to do with real politics. If the European Union thinks the Russian leadership should be prohibited from any and every action, this means that it is, in fact, free to do anything it pleases.

Obviously, the EU leadership cordially dislikes many of Moscow’s foreign policy steps, and they are not thrilled about the current dynamic of Russia’s domestic developments either. However, the EU is incapable of forcing the Russian leadership to make a U-turn in a particular area. Times when Russia was willing to be a diligent and obedient student of the European Union are long gone and are unlikely to return. Therefore, we need to look for partial agreements—clearly far from ideal and compromise-based by default—in those areas that are vital for the European Union. That is, “red lines” should not be mere tropes of political rhetoric but reflections of the European Union’s real priorities.

Incidentally, unlike the EU leaders, President Joe Biden of the United States set very specific and unequivocal “red lines.” The Geneva summit confirmed what was unacceptable for him—foreign cyberattacks on critical U.S. infrastructure and cyber-meddling in U.S. domestic politics. This is why Biden did what Trump did not dare do. He namely increased the level of bilateral interaction between Moscow and Washington on cyber security issues. If the aborted EU–Russia summit resulted in a single decision—such as a substantive dialogue on the broad range of cyber threats issues and ways to reduce them—it would ultimately justify all the efforts that would have gone into preparing and holding the summit.

It seems obvious that priority pockets of cooperation can only be singled out once the parties have drawn their “red lines.” Top-level dialogue is indispensable here. Fortunately or unfortunately, following a long stagnation in the relations, the only possible way to change the currently entrenched trend of keeping the negative status quo is with a summit.

Only a clear political signal from the top, expressed in no uncertain terms, can inspire to action the vast armies of officials, diplomats, experts and business leaders on both sides who are not always ready to “jump the gun.” If the Russian and EU leaders achieved a fundamental agreement to work together on the issues of “green energy,” 5G or international migrations, these decisions would greenlight the work of the relevant agencies, ministries, corporations, public organizations, professional communities and educational institutions that are already primed for action.

To the global community, an EU–Russia summit would herald that Brussels and Moscow do not intend to watch with indifference as a new global bipolarity is emerging. On the contrary, they are firmly determined to prevent it from taking ground while remaining fully independent and active global actors.

Alternatives will always be there

There is still hope that an EU–Russia summit can still take place before Angela Merkel leaves the European political scene—specifically, before Germany’s parliamentary elections on September 26, 2021. Not only because her departure will mark a pause in Germany’s foreign policy (even if this pause will not necessarily be a long one) but because the current Chancellor of Germany has poured much effort and energy into stabilizing Moscow–Brussels relations. She did not totally succeed, and not all her ideas invited definitive agreement, but it would be fair to let this truly outstanding European politician complete her part on the European scene.

As someone who has some idea of how the bureaucracy in Brussels works and what the current balance of political power within the European Union is, I must admit that Angela Merkel’s chances of having her final political “special” with Vladimir Putin making an appearance are slim. Those who are against the dialogue can rejoice. Once again, they have defeated Europe’s political heavyweights and imposed their position on the European Union. Apparently, the relations between Moscow and Brussels have been paused yet again, and it remains to be seen how long this situation will last.

There are only two conclusions that Russia can draw following the refusal of the European Union to hold a joint summit. First, it appears that important issues of European security need to be discussed with the United States rather than Europe. Moscow’s main task is to come to agreement with Washington, and it will make every effort to do so over the next few months. It is then up to Washington to ensure that the (Central) European capitals support the agreements achieved, using any means it deems fit.

Second, if it is well-nigh impossible to come to agreement with Brussels, then Russia should, as before, prioritize bilateral relations with Berlin, Paris, Rome and other European capitals interested in fostering cooperation. Let these capitals enforce the decisions they and Moscow need from Brussels in areas beyond their national jurisdictions. And relations with the European Union as such will develop in the same way they have developed over the last seven years—that is, they will not develop at all.

Certainly, the EU’s refusal to hold a summit further bolsters those forces in Moscow that have long been promoting the idea of the “civilizational incompatibility” of Russia and Europe, calling for a speedier “pivot to the Orient” while adding every-so-often suggestions that Russia withdraw from the pan-European organizations of which it is still a member. As far as these are concerned, the very idea of a Russia–Europe summit today seems useless to them at best and harmful at worst, since it draws attention away from the far more important objectives of Russia’s foreign policy on the vast expanses of the Eurasian continent.

Naturally, few in Brussels would welcome such developments, as they hardly meet the long-term interests of Warsaw, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius and Prague. The European stage is thus likely to treat us to more new covers of old songs. Russia will again be repeatedly accused of unjustified “Americentrism,” the desire to undermine “European unity,” overestimating the prospects of Russia–China cooperation and underestimating the European Union’s role in the world today. They will say that a conversation with Russia does not need to be launched at the top level, as it would be better to discuss many issues as a matter of routine interactions—only when there are prospects of earnest cooperation can the idea of a summit be brought up again. Maybe in a year, or two… or five.

However, such reproaches and reasoning do not appear overly convincing given the EU’s pointed refusal to have a direct and frank top-level dialogue with Moscow. As the French classic Jean-Baptiste Molière said on a different occasion, “You wanted it, George Dandin!”

From our partner RIAC

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Iceland’s Historic(al) Elections

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The morning of September, 26 was a good one for Lenya Run Karim of the Pirate Party. Once the preliminary results were announced, things were clear: the 21-year-old law student of the University of Iceland, originating from a Kurdish immigrant family, had become the youngest MP in the country’s history.

In historical significance, however, this event was second to another. Iceland, the world champion in terms of gender equality, became the first country in Europe to have more women MPs than men, 33 versus 30. The news immediately made world headlines: only five countries in the world have achieved such impressive results. Remarkably, all are non-European: Rwanda, Nicaragua and Cuba have a majority of women in parliament, while Mexico and the UAE have an equal number of male and female MPs.

Nine hours later, news agencies around the world had to edit their headlines. The recount in the Northwest constituency affected the outcome across the country to delay the ‘triumph for women’ for another four years.

Small numbers, big changes

The Icelandic electoral system is designed so that 54 out of the 63 seats in the Althingi, the national parliament, are primary or constituency seats, while another nine are equalization seats. Only parties passing the 5 per cent threshold are allowed to distribute equalisation seats that go to the candidates who failed to win constituency mandates and received the most votes in their constituency. However, the number of equalisation mandates in each of the 6 constituencies is legislated. In theory, this could lead to a situation in which the leading party candidate in one constituency may simply lack an equalisation mandate, so the leading candidate of the same party—but in another constituency—receives it.

This is what happened this year. Because of a difference of only ten votes between the Reform Party and the Pirate Party, both vying for the only equalisation mandate in the Northwest, the constituency’s electoral commission announced a recount on its own initiative. There were also questions concerning the counting procedure as such: the ballots were not sealed but simply locked in a Borgarnes hotel room. The updated results hardly affected the distribution of seats between the parties, bringing in five new MPs, none of whom were women, with the 21-year-old Lenya Run Karim replaced by her 52-year-old party colleague.

In the afternoon of September, 27, at the request of the Left-Green Movement, supported by the Independence Party, the Pirates and the Reform Party, the commission in the South announced a recount of their own—the difference between the Left-Greens and the Centrists was only seven votes. There was no ‘domino effect’, as in the case of the Northwest, as the five-hour recount showed the same result. Recounts in other districts are unlikely, nor is it likely that Althingi—vested with the power to declare the elections valid—would invalidate the results in the Northwest. Nevertheless, the ‘replaced’ candidates have already announced their intention to appeal against the results, citing violations of ballot storage procedures. Under the Icelandic law, this is quite enough to invalidate the results and call a re-election in the Northwest, as the Supreme Court of Iceland invalidated the Constitutional Council elections due to a breach of procedure 10 years ago. Be that as it may, the current score remains 33:30, in favor of men.

Progressives’ progress and threshold for socialists

On the whole, there were no surprises: the provisional allocation of mandates resembles, if with minor changes, the opinion polls on the eve of the election.

The ruling three-party coalition has rejuvenated its position, winning 37 out of the 63 Althingi seats. The centrist Progressive Party saw a real electoral triumph, improving its 2017 result by five seats. Prime-minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s Left-Green Movement, albeit with a slight loss, won eight seats, surpassing all pre-election expectations. Although the centre-right Independence Party outperformed everyone again to win almost a quarter of all votes, 16 seats are one of the worst results of the Icelandic ‘Grand Old Party’ ever.

The results of the Social-Democrats, almost 10% versus 12.1% in 2017, and of the Pirates, 8.6% versus 9.2%, have deteriorated. Support for the Centre Party of Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, former prime-minister and victim of the Panama Papers, has halved from 10.9% to 5.4%. The centrists have seen a steady decline in recent years, largely due to a sexist scandal involving party MPs. The populist People’s Party and the pro-European Reform Party have seen gains of 8.8% and 8.3%, as compared to 6.9% and 6.7% in the previous elections.

Of the leading Icelandic parties, only the Socialist Party failed to pass the 5 per cent threshold: despite a rating above 7% in August, the Socialists received only 4.1% of the vote.

Coronavirus, climate & economy

Healthcare and the fight against COVID-19 was, expectedly, on top of the agenda of the elections: 72% of voters ranked it as the defining issue, according to a Fréttablaðið poll. Thanks to swift and stringent measures, the Icelandic government brought the coronavirus under control from day one, and the country has enjoyed one of the lowest infection rates in the world for most of the time. At the same time, the pandemic exposed a number of problems in the national healthcare system: staff shortages, low salaries and long waiting lists for emergency surgery.

Climate change, which Icelanders are already experiencing, was an equally important topic. This summer, the temperature has not dropped below 20°C for 59 days, an anomaly for a North-Atlantic island. However, Icelanders’ concerns never converted into increased support for the four left-leaning parties advocating greater reductions in CO2 emission than the country has committed to under the Paris Agreement: their combined result fell by 0.5%.

The economy and employment were also among the main issues in this election. The pandemic has severely damaged the island nation’s economy, which is heavily tourism-reliant—perhaps, unsurprisingly, many Icelanders are in favor of reviving the tourism sector as well as diversifying the economy further.

The EU membership, by far a ‘traditional’ issue in Icelandic politics, is unlikely to be featured on the agenda of the newly-elected parliament as the combined result of the Eurosceptics, despite a loss of 4%, still exceeds half of the overall votes. The new Althingi will probably face the issue of constitutional reform once again, which is only becoming more topical in the light of the pandemic and the equalization mandates story.

New (old) government?

The parties are to negotiate coalition formation. The most likely scenario now is that the ruling coalition of the Independence Party, the Left-Greens and the Progressives continues. It has been the most ideologically diverse and the first three-party coalition in Iceland’s history to last a full term. A successful fight against the pandemic has only strengthened its positions and helped it secure additional votes. Independence Party leader and finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson has earlier said he would be prepared to keep the ruling coalition if it holds the majority. President Guðni Jóhannesson announced immediately after the elections that he would confirm the mandate of the ruling coalition to form a new government if the three parties could strike a deal.

Other developments are possible but unlikely. Should the Left-Greens decide to leave the coalition, they could be replaced by the Reform Party or the People’s Party, while any coalition without the Independence Party can only be a four-party or larger coalition.

Who will become the new prime-minister still remains to be seen—but if the ruling coalition remains in place, the current prime-minister and leader of the Left-Greens, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, stands a good chance of keeping her post: she is still the most popular politician in Iceland with a 40 per cent approval rate.

The 2021 Althingi election, with one of the lowest turnouts in history at 80.1%, has not produced a clear winner. The election results reflect a Europe-wide trend in which traditional “major” parties are losing support. The electorate is fragmenting and their votes are pulled by smaller new parties. The coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this trend.

The 2021 campaign did not foreshadow a sensation. Although Iceland has not become the first European country with a women’s majority in parliament, these elections will certainly go down in history as a test of Icelanders’ trust to their own democracy.

From our partner RIAC

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EU-Balkan Summit: No Set Timeframe for Western Balkans Accession

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From left to right: Janez JANŠA (Prime Minister, Slovenia), Charles MICHEL (President of the European Council), Ursula VON DER LEYEN (President of the European Commission) Copyright: European Union

On October 6, Slovenia hosted a summit between the EU and the Western Balkans states. The EU-27 met with their counterparts (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo) in the sumptuous Renaissance setting of Brdo Castle, 30 kilometers north of the capital, Ljubljana. Despite calls from a minority of heads of state and government, there were no sign of a breakthrough on the sensitive issue of enlargement. The accession of these countries to the European Union is still not unanimous among the 27 EU member states.

During her final tour of the Balkans three weeks ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the peninsula’s integration was of “geostrategic” importance. On the eve of the summit, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz backed Slovenia’s goal of integrating this zone’s countries into the EU by 2030.

However, the unanimity required to begin the hard negotiations is still a long way off, even for the most advanced countries in the accession process, Albania and North Macedonia. Bulgaria, which is already a member of the EU, is opposing North Macedonia’s admission due to linguistic and cultural differences. Since Yugoslavia’s demise, Sofia has rejected the concept of Macedonian language, insisting that it is a Bulgarian dialect, and has condemned the artificial construction of a distinct national identity.

Other countries’ reluctance to join quickly is of a different nature. France and the Netherlands believe that previous enlargements (Bulgaria and Romania in 2007) have resulted in changes that must first be digested before the next round of enlargement. The EU-27 also demand that all necessary prior guarantees be provided regarding the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption in these countries. Despite the fact that press freedom is a requirement for membership, the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged the EU to make “support for investigative and professional journalism” a key issue at the summit.”

While the EU-27 have not met since June, the topic of Western Balkans integration is competing with other top priorities in the run-up to France’s presidency of the EU in the first half of 2022. On the eve of the summit, a working dinner will be held, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, called for “a strategic discussion on the role of the Union on the international scene” in his letter of invitation to the EU-Balkans Summit, citing “recent developments in Afghanistan,” the announcement of the AUKUS pact between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which has enraged Paris.

The Western Balkans remain the focal point of an international game of influence in which the Europeans seek to maintain their dominance. As a result, the importance of reaffirming a “European perspective” at the summit was not an overstatement. Faced with the more frequent incursion of China, Russia, and Turkey in that European region, the EU has pledged a 30 billion euro Economic and Investment Plan for 2021-2027, as well as increased cooperation, particularly to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opening the borders, however, is out of the question. In the absence of progress on this issue, Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia have decided to establish their own zone of free movement (The Balkans are Open”) beginning January 1, 2023. “We are starting today to do in the region what we will do tomorrow in the EU,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama when the agreement was signed last July.

This initiative, launched in 2019 under the name “Mini-Schengen” and based on a 1990s idea, does not have the support of the entire peninsular region, which remains deeply divided over this project. While Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are not refusing to be a part of it and are open to discussions, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, who took office in 2020, for his part accuses Serbia of relying on this project to recreate “a fourth Yugoslavia”

Tensions between Balkan countries continue to be an impediment to European integration. The issue of movement between Kosovo and Serbia has been a source of concern since the end of September. Two weeks of escalation followed Kosovo’s decision to prohibit cars with Serbian license plates from entering its territory, in response to Serbia’s long-standing prohibition on allowing vehicles to pass in the opposite direction.

In response to the mobilization of Kosovar police to block the road, Serbs in Kosovo blocked roads to their towns and villages, and Serbia deployed tanks and the air force near the border. On Sunday, October 3, the conflict seemed to be over, and the roads were reopened. However, the tone had been set three days before the EU-Balkans summit.

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German Election: Ramifications for the US Foreign Policy

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Image source: twitter @OlafScholz

In the recent German election, foreign policy was scarcely an issue. But Germany is an important element in the US foreign policy. There is a number of cases where Germany and the US can cooperate, but all of these dynamics are going to change very soon.

The Germans’ strategic culture makes it hard to be aligned perfectly with the US and disagreements can easily damage the relations. After the tension between the two countries over the Iraq war, in 2003, Henry Kissinger said that he could not imagine the relations between Germany and the US could be aggravated so quickly, so easily, which might end up being the “permanent temptation of German politics”. For a long time, the US used to provide security for Germany during the Cold War and beyond, so, several generations are used to take peace for granted. But recently, there is a growing demand on them to carry more burden, not just for their own security, but for international peace and stability. This demand was not well-received in Berlin.

Then, the environment around Germany changed and new threats loomed up in front of them. The great powers’ competition became the main theme in international relations. Still, Germany was not and is not ready for shouldering more responsibility. Politicians know this very well. Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister, asked terms like “nuclear weapons” and “deterrence” be removed from her speeches.

Although on paper, all major parties appreciate the importance of Germany’s relations with the US, the Greens and SPD ask for a reset in the relations. The Greens insist on the European way in transatlantic relations and SPD seeks more multilateralism. Therefore, alignment may be harder to maintain in the future. However, If the tensions between the US and China heat up to melting degrees, then external pressure can overrule the internal pressure and Germany may accede to its transatlantic partners, just like when Helmut Schmid let NATO install medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe after the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan and the Cold War heated up.

According to the election results, now three coalitions are possible: grand coalition with CDU/CSU and SPD, traffic lights coalition with SPD, FDP, and Greens, Jamaica coalition with CDU/CSU, FDP, and Greens. Jamaica coalition will more likely form the most favorable government for the US because it has both CDU and FDP, and traffic lights will be the least favorite as it has SPD. The grand coalition can maintain the status quo at best, because contrary to the current government, SPD will dominate CDU.

To understand nuances, we need to go over security issues to see how these coalitions will react to them. As far as Russia is concerned, none of them will recognize the annexation of Crimea and they all support related sanctions. However, if tensions heat up, any coalition government with SPD will be less likely assertive. On the other hand, as the Greens stress the importance of European values like democracy and human rights, they tend to be more assertive if the US formulates its foreign policy by these common values and describe US-China rivalry as a clash between democracy and authoritarianism. Moreover, the Greens disapprove of the Nordstream project, of course not for its geopolitics. FDP has also sided against it for a different reason. So, the US must follow closely the negotiations which have already started between anti-Russian smaller parties versus major parties.

For relations with China, pro-business FDP is less assertive. They are seeking for developing EU-China relations and deepening economic ties and civil society relations. While CDU/CSU and Greens see China as a competitor, partner, and systemic rival, SPD and FDP have still hopes that they can bring change through the exchange. Thus, the US might have bigger problems with the traffic lights coalition than the Jamaica coalition in this regard.

As for NATO and its 2 percent of GDP, the division is wider. CDU/CSU and FDP are the only parties who support it. So, in the next government, it might be harder to persuade them to pay more. Finally, for nuclear participation, the situation is the same. CDU/CSU is the only party that argues for it. This makes it an alarming situation because the next government has to decide on replacing Germany’s tornados until 2024, otherwise Germany will drop out of the NATO nuclear participation.

The below table gives a brief review of these three coalitions. 1 indicates the lowest level of favoritism and 3 indicates the highest level of favoritism. As it shows, the most anti-Russia coalition is Jamaica, while the most anti-China coalition is Trafic light. Meanwhile, Grand Coalition is the most pro-NATO coalition. If the US adopts a more normative foreign policy against China and Russia, then the Greens and FDP will be more assertive in their anti-Russian and anti-Chinese policies and Germany will align more firmly with the US if traffic light or Jamaica coalition rise to power.

Issues CoalitionsTrafic LightGrand CoalitionJamaica
Russia213 
China312 
NATO132 

1 indicates the lowest level of favoritism. 3 indicates the highest level of favoritism.

In conclusion, this election should not make Americans any happier. The US has already been frustrated with the current government led by Angela Merkel who gave Germany’s trade with China the first priority, and now that the left-wing will have more say in any imaginable coalition in the future, the Americans should become less pleased. But, still, there are hopes that Germany can be a partner for the US in great power competition if the US could articulate its foreign policy with common values, like democracy and human rights. More normative foreign policy can make a reliable partner out of Germany. Foreign policy rarely became a topic in this election, but observers should expect many ramifications for it.

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