A split personality in Germany


Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

Disagreements on key foreign policy issues are arising in German political circles. First and foremost, this concerns the Ukrainian crisis.

According to the weekly Der Spiegel, the German authorities refused to create a National Security Council. And all because Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) after months of consultations could not agree on who would head it and who would be its members. The idea was that this structure, copied from the U.S., would "improve coordination between the Chancellor's Office and the ministries." Experts note that the frantic Annalena is pursuing an almost independent line in the same Ukrainian crisis, not really coordinating her steps with the head of the Berlin cabinet.

The conflict has reached a critical level: specially trained employees in the Chancellor's Office are quietly gathering compromising material on Baerbock in a separate file. The head of the Foreign Ministry recently said that she had been warned not to joke about the Chancellor and not to say anything unnecessary.

"Berbock is in conflict with Scholz. From her first day in the coalition government, she started trying to pursue her foreign policy without consulting him. She visits other countries, determines agenda by herself, first to Paris, then to Warsaw, Brussels...," says well-known German political scientist Alexander Rahr.

Theoretically, he said, the head of the Foreign Ministry may not coordinate all her actions with the head of the government. However, the Chancellor has the right of the last word. Moreover, Baerbock violates the provisions of the coalition agreement, which clearly stipulates that she is not the one who determines the foreign policy strategy. This approach of the "pushmi-pullyu", colorfully described in Chukovsky's "Dr. Powderpill," significantly weakens Berlin's actions on the international scene, which are already highly dependent on the commands of the overseas sovereign. The split is also taking place at the expert level.

Thus, a respected political scientist and former head of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger called to prepare general conditions for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

"In addition to arms supplies and financial support, we must offer a perspective to the growing chorus of critical questions in the United States as well as in Germany," he wrote in a commentary for Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper published March 12.

His proposal seems like a good thing, but on closer inspection it doesn't look like such a thing.

According to the convoluted scheme he announced, an international political-strategic contact group for the peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis should be created. This would be similar to the tried-and-true "Ramstein format," which, according to Ischinger, has proven successful in organizing military aid to Kiev.

Such a group could "form the nucleus, or at least part of the mediation group," if it comes to Russian-Ukrainian negotiations. At the same time, the decision to start negotiations should be made solely by Ukraine. At present, however, he believes that such a step would be tantamount to a "partial capitulation to the aggressor."

So, according to Ischinger, the contact group could include the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany. They would rally other partner states around them, in particular Canada, Spain, Poland, Italy, the Baltic states, as well as the UN, EU, OSCE and NATO.

Its task is to study in advance the possible options for a peace agreement, to discuss the principal details. Who, for example, could control the peace process? To what extent are measures for the disengagement of forces or the creation of no-fly zones necessary?

According to his plan, this group should hold regular meetings at the level of foreign ministers. Is this the new UN Security Council (without Russia and China) or the "big horde" of the Council of Ministers?

At the same time, Ischinger spoke sharply about German politicians calling for the cessation of military aid to Ukraine and the immediate start of negotiations. This refers to the recent protests under the slogan "Rebellion for Peace," which were organized by the politician of the Left Party, Bundestag member Sahra Wagenknecht and the well-known feminist Alice Schwarzer, about whom our website wrote in detail. Earlier, they published a petition called "Manifesto for Peace," which has already been signed by 746,000 Germans.

By the way, in response to this mass action, another petition was launched - with an appeal not to stop military aid to Kiev. However, it has not yet become widespread.

However, it completely demonstrates the split of political personalities in Germany.