The Core of Europe

BERLIN (Own report) – In view of the growing rivalry with China, business officials and foreign policy makers in Germany are warning against the performance of EU critical forces in the European elections in May. “Alone, no individual European country” could “play a major role” in the global competition, says Eric Schweitzer, President of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). German companies need the EU’s single market, the “core of Europe,” as an economic foundation, to assert themselves on a global level against companies from the People’s Republic of China and the USA. Should EU critical “populists” – regardless of their political orientation – obtain more influence in the European Parliament, “the future of the German economy” would also be at risk, according to DIHK Chief Executive Martin Wansleben. Dieter Kempf, President of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) is pleading for business representatives to commit themselves “audibly in favor of an open Europe.” At the same time, German businesses are openly demanding that their interests be imposed within the EU – a main reason for the growth of influence of “populists” in other EU member countries.

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The Sanctions Debate

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – In the prelude to Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Russia, German business associations and foreign policy experts are urging that the policy of sanctions be ended. They argue that sanctions practically have become ineffective, since Russia’s economy has withstood these trade restrictions and is now even recovering. The boycott has also damaged the EU’s image and that of the USA in Russia and, even though intended to weaken, it has helped to stabilize the Russian government. Moreover, Russian orders, that German businesses had once expected, were increasingly going to competitors, for example in China – and are ultimately lost. However, German economists still see Russia as a lucrative market. According to an analysis by the Bertelsmann Foundation and Munich’s ifo Institute, a free-trade agreement between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), congregated around Russia, would generate a growth of 45 billion euros. Government advisors recommend that the sanctions policy be gradually ended. This would not eliminate the prospect that Moscow, at any time, could be forced to its knees with an arms race. Continue reading

Future Alliances

BRASÍLIA/LIMA/BOGOTÁ/BERLIN (Own report) – The West’s power struggle with Russia has led also to tensions during the German foreign minister’s Latin America tour, which ends today. Last Friday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Brazil, which has a “Strategic Partnership” with Germany. However, the country not only refuses to join the sanctions against Russia, it is even intensifying its economic and political cooperation with Moscow. Current relations have therefore become “difficult,” according to observers, even though they are good with Peru and Colombia, next on the Foreign Minister’s schedule. Both countries are members of the “Pacific Alliance” that is directed against the Venezuela and Cuba inspired ALBA Alliance. The alliance also seeks to enhance its economic activities in East and Southeast Asia, thereby falling in line with Western efforts to position its forces against China at its periphery. Germany was given observer status at the Pacific Alliance and is intensifying military cooperation with its members.

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Pegida: The New German Revolution

Every Monday evening since last October, thousands of citizens have marched through the city of Dresden as well as other German cities to protest the Islamization of their country. They belong to an organization, established only three months ago, called Pegida, the German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.”

Pegida is a democratic grassroots organization, without origins in the far-left, far-right or links to any political parties, domestic or foreign. The French Front National [FN] of Marine Le Pen even made it clear that it wants nothing to do with “spontaneous initiatives” such as Pegida. According to the FN, “something like Pegida cannot be a substitute for a party.” Continue reading

Germany’s New Role

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – In the prelude to this weekend’s new Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to Germany, a prominent German think tank is pleading for closer German-Chinese cooperation. If Germany seeks to continue to have influence in Beijing, it must “put more weight in the balance than it has in the past,” warns a recent statement by the Bertelsmann Foundation. Otherwise Berlin risks suffering the same fate as the EU, which China is marginalizing to a growing degree – not least of all, because of the persisting crisis. The EU’s institutions have – “as has often been the case in foreign policy – also overestimated their roles with China.” The German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) sees the development of European-Chinese relations similarly. According to SWP, Germany has become the focus of China’s attention on Europe, while the EU “has been demoted to a ‘political dwarf’ in the course of the crisis.” Foreign policy specialists outside Germany had critically noted last year that there is a disparity between Germany’s China policy and that of other EU countries – wherein Berlin has been having growing success in Beijing. “Europe,” in comparison, is being marginalized. Continue reading