MUNICH (Own report) – At the Munich Security Conference last weekend, the power struggle between Berlin and Washington openly escalated to an unprecedented level. US Vice President Mike Pence reiterated his ultimatum that Berlin and the EU immediately renounce their political and economic projects, which are not fully in accord with US policy, pertaining particularly to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the Iran nuclear deal. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the US demands. In view of the dispute with Washington, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared at the Security Conference that “Europe” faces the “crucial question” whether it will be “the subject or the object of global policy in the future.” It must, therefore, “transform geo-economic capital into geopolitical capital” to become “a cornerstone of the international order” and “develop its own geopolitical identity.” Maas is expressing his demands, at a time, when the EU’s Iran policy is about to fall apart and the European power base needed for Berlin’s ambitions is crumbling.
On the weekend, the Trump administration reiterated its demand that Berlin and the EU renounce their political and economic projects, which are not fully in accord with US policy. In his speech at the Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Mike Pence demanded that European countries follow the United States and immediately withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Pence praised those EU members, who are taking a strong stand against Nord Stream 2 and added, “we recommend others to do the same.” The Vice President also declared that Washington has been “very clear” with its allies on “the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies.” In view of many EU countries recognizing the Venezuelan insurgent Juan Guaidó as “interim president,” Pence called on the EU to recognize Guaidò as “president.” The difference being that, according to the Venezuelan constitution an interim president must immediately call for new elections – while a president is not obliged to do so. Finally, the US Vice President threatened to disregard guarantees to the Alliance: “We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.” This was also addressed toward Berlin, seeking to complete and put Nord Stream 2 into operation.
“A Cornerstone of the International Order”
Unwilling to Surrender
Accordingly, the German government is stubbornly trying to ward off the growing US demands to abandon the political and economic projects of Germany and the EU. Chancellor Angela Merkel reconfirmed in Munich that she wanted to proceed with Russian gas supply. Russia had been a dependable gas supplier already in the first cold war period. It must also be prevented that Russia develops “dependence” on China – also for gas sales. This is why Russia must “remain a partner,” at least to some extent. Europe’s powers also wanted to maintain the nuclear agreement with Iran, Merkel reaffirmed. Even though the goal is also “to contain” Iran’s policy, however, this can be better achieved, if the agreement is maintained, “so that pressure can perhaps be applied in other areas.” Berlin and the EU are, in any case, at the moment, not prepared to surrender in the controversy with Washington.
Teetering at the Brink
Crumbling at the Base
Moreover, the European power base is seriously crumbling. The Munich Security Conference organizers had originally planned to have Chancellor Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron reject the predictable US demands side by side, which failed. Macron, who has been consistently duped by Berlin since assuming office (german-foreign-policy.com reported ), had cancelled his participation. Thus, Merkel was forced to defend the German-European positions alone – and thereby, involuntarily, demonstrate the growing disintegration of the repeatedly proclaimed “European unity.”
Full article: Europe’s “Geopolitical Identity” (German Foreign Policy)