Berlin Calls for a “One-Europe Policy”

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – Berlin sees China’s growing economic presence in the EU’s eastern periphery as an increasing threat to German predominance over Eastern and Southeastern Europe. During his visit to Paris at the end of August, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned against the People’s Republic’s alleged “division of Europe.” Beijing’s cooperation with 16 Eastern and Southeastern European countries is threatening the EU’s “unity” and must be stopped. China should follow a “one-Europe policy.” German media and think tanks have been sharply criticizing Chinese economic activities in Eastern and Southeastern Europe since years. In a recent analysis, the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation (FDP) assailed the Czech government for signing a “declaration on the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China” in view of comprehensive Chinese investments in that country. Beijing has reacted to these attacks by pointing to Germany’s dominant status in the EU.

Continue reading

German-Russian Flagship Projects

KASSEL/MOSCOW (Own report) – The German natural gas company, Wintershall Holding GmbH, is intensifying cooperation with Russia’s Gazprom and will receive direct access to large Siberian gas fields. Last Friday, the two companies announced they would finalize an asset swap this year, which would allow Wintershall to participate in the exploitation of two blocks in the Achimov formation of the Urengoy natural gas field. The deal had been signed back in 2013, but was canceled by Moscow in late 2014, because of the escalation of the conflict with the West. This resumption enables BASF’s subsidiary, Wintershall, to continue its rise in the global gas sector. The Austrian company, OMV, since July 1, under the management of former Wintershall CEO, Rainer Seele, is also participating. Gazprom, Wintershall, OMV and other gas companies have agreed to expand the Russia-to-Germany “Nord Stream” pipeline with two more pipelines. German business circles explicitly describe both as “flagship projects” and push for a rapid re-intensification of cooperation at the political level.

Continue reading

Global Policy Orientation

By now it should be clear where Europe, or Germany rather, stands in regards to its dealings with Russia and what side it will likely take should it have to decisively choose between it and the West.

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) – In the debate over a possible expansion of EU sanctions against Russia, the German chancellor is suggesting a possible continuation of cooperation with Moscow. “In the intermediate and long term,” Merkel explained, “the close partnership with Russia should be continued.” She sees “no necessity” in a policy of “isolating” Russia, patterned on the cold war’s “containment” policy. Merkel was reacting to the persisting anxiety in leading German business circles, that sanctions against Russia could seriously dampen their expansion opportunities. This is not only an anxiety shared by gas companies, but also by top corporations in other branches with significant commercial and production sites in Russia. On the eve of the Russian president’s visit to China, observers are warning that if the EU and the USA impose boycott measures, Moscow could forge also stronger ties to Beijing, thereby tangibly strengthening China. Hard-core transatlantic circles are up in arms over the prospect that cooperation with Moscow could be continued – pleading for the creation of a global front of NATO countries and their allies against Russia and China. Continue reading