The new German government says: “Dare more progress”

The foreign policy agenda will not bring more peace

by Christian Fischer, Cologne

In the following article, there will not be a comprehensive appreciation of the coalition agreement made by the upcoming SPD-Green-FDP government. The author’s intention is to take a look at foreign policy perspectives, even though there are enough topics, starting from citizen’s income to cannabis liberalisation or LBGTI support for developing countries as well, to investments in the future, that could give us worries for the times to come.

Is it permitted for an old white man to utter critical words about a young woman who is now going to be Germany’s foreign minister? Let’s try it this way: It is an intellectual challenge to imagine a 40-year-old person, whose professional experience consists of a party career and, before that, trampoline bronze medals, as the head of the diplomatic corps and as the representative of German interests abroad. I am hardly up to this challenge. Is it any consolation that similar biographies are not atypical among our political elite?
  But what matters are not the persons (not even mine), but only the contents, as we were repeatedly told. The content is in the coalition agreement. So, let’s take a look. The title “Mehr Fortschritt wagen” (dare more progress) probably deliberately recalls the words of Willy Brandt “Mehr Demokratie wagen” (dare more democracy). This slogan at least sounded pleasant. When it comes to progress, one always should ask oneself: Where are we progressing to? Or: What are we moving away from? What are we leaving behind?
  At first, the intentions appear quite conservative. Commitment to NATO obligations, to the transatlantic alliance, to the UN and to human rights. These are no surprises. One even reads about the goal of making Germany and, if possible, the whole world free of nuclear weapons and reviving international disarmament talks. It remains somewhat unclear, however, whether disarmament is being primarily demanded by others or by oneself. After all, one also reads about the explicit commitment to armed drones, a successor system for the Tornado fighter and the need to increase the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr in order to meet the “strategic challenges and security threats of our time”. This can be used to justify almost any military deployment worldwide – wait, no: explicitly, there should be no export of armaments to states participating in the war in Yemen. That’s a good thing, but there was once a time when arms exports to any crisis zone, let alone a war zone, were prohibited. Those times are long gone, even if, at EU level, they are now calling for “more binding rules for a restrictive arms export policy”.
  The “progress” becomes more concrete when looking towards Eastern Europe. We (we!) are ready for a constructive dialogue with Russia and want to work on future issues. That sounds good. Furthermore, we want to pay attention to the interests of “our partners” in Central and Eastern Europe. We demand – from Russia, of course – an end to the violence in eastern Ukraine and an end to the annexation of Crimea, which was/is contrary to international law. It wants to be a partner for democracy movements in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Belarus; the first three are to be supported in their efforts to implement reforms in the direction of the EU.
  Adding to this the objective formulated elsewhere, postulating that EU and NATO should cooperate more intensively, one wonders how a constructive dialogue with Russia can be possible considering these openly declared intentions of interference. It’s as if – in a different course of history – the Soviet Union had tried to make Alaska and California (or Austria and Scandinavia) into Soviet republics.
  In plain terms: the plan is to advance further East economically and militarily. If we remember that even Hans-Dietrich Genscher, FDP Foreign Minister for 18 years, described the eastward expansion to Poland and the Baltic States as the biggest mistake since the Second World War (cf. Current Concerns No. 25/26 of 26 November 2021). Then this “progress” towards the east is a logical continuation of this biggest mistake. In the Far East, relations with China are to be “shaped in the dimensions of partnership, competition and system rivalry”, whatever that means. Anyway, relations with China are to be coordinated in close consultation with the EU and the USA on the basis of human rights and applicable international law.
  The progress made on the European Union is also worth mentioning. There is an explicit desire to develop the EU into a federal state. To this end, the “right of initiative” in the European Parliament is to be “strengthened”. (Note: it would have to be introduced in the first place, up to now the Parliament has no right of initiative for legislation); at first an European electoral law for this Parliament has to be introduced. (Note: up to now the EU Parliament is elected according to nationally very different rules), whereby transnational lists should then also be possible. (Note: then citizens could elect? Portuguese MPs in Germany and vice versa). The basis of this European Federal State should be the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The European Court of Justice is also to be supported in the execution of its verdicts, and national laws are to be checked more closely concerning their conformity with EU law. As stated elsewhere, the Council of Europe should be strengthened against “authoritarian Council of Europe members”.
  In a word, the dissolution of nation states with the aim to create a European federal state is the declared and decided objective of this government. All EU members (note: not all are NATO members!) must join the transatlantic alliance and the expansion towards the East if they do not want to be side-lined as “authoritarian”. The “strategic sovereignty of Europe” is to be increased, but there is no mention about the sovereignty of nations or the protection and scope of our Basic Law. Did the voters of this government realise this? Is that what they wanted?
  These first indications of “progress” in foreign policy already show that the previous direction – away from our national democracy, away towards the East – has not been abandoned, but is to be continued swiftly with fresh personnel. We citizens will have enough to do to monitor this government to see whether it represents our interests.  •

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