Policy Of The New Chancellor
With Olaf Scholz replacing Angela Merkel as the German Chancellor on December 8, 2021, a change is on the cards, as far as Germany’s Asia Policy is concerned. The new Government of Germany has hinted that it would be difficult for Berlin to maintain cordial ties with India and China, as it would stress on Human Rights.
The Green Party, the largest partner in the Ruling Coalition, has made it clear that it would not make friendship with undemocratic leaders, although the Greens have no issue to bolster trade ties with undemocratic nations. In a way, the top Green Party leadership expressed dissatisfaction over the absence of democracy in the two Asian nations. It may be noted that former Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her 16 years and 16 days in office, tried her best to maintain friendly ties with both India and China. The Narendra Modi Administration in India, which recently predicted a change in German foreign policy, has announced that it would strengthen ties with Britain (especially in post-Brexit Europe) and France.
Chancellor Scholz, currently heading a Traffic Light Coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals, said that as their cooperation was based on a 177-page contract, negotiated over two-and-a-half months, it would be important for the Government to respect the views of each coalition partner. In 28 pages of the contract, Germany’s future role in Europe and the World has been explained. It has been mentioned in those pages that it is high time for Germany to play a more relevant role in World Politics, keeping in mind the changing Global Geopolitical landscape.
In an article published in The Wire on December 15, 2021, Klaus W Larres, the Richard M Krasno Distinguished Professor of History and International Affairs at the University of North Carolina, said that the new Government in Berlin made some changes in its foreign policy because of the “great power competition” between China and the US, which started threatening to crush the interests of Germany and the European Union (EU). As Vladimir Putin’s Russia is ready to take advantage of Germany’s confusion and uncertainty about how to position itself, the Administration of Chancellor Scholz has decided to honour its traditional closeness to Washington DC.
Currently, three ladies, who are making the headlines as politicians, are taking care of Germany’s new Foreign Policy. Apart from the 40-year-old Foreign Minister and Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock, there are Defence Minister Christine Lamprecht of the SPD, and Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze (also of the SPD). Professor Larres believes that Baerbock shall follow the Green Party’s value-driven foreign policy philosophy in the coming years, and it would make a huge difference. Although Baerbock has no prior experience in making decisions in regard to foreign policies, she is all set to represent the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times) in Global Affairs. As the Zeitgeist is widely considered as a hardline stance, the global community would miss former Chancellor Merkel’s tendency to listen, integrate and patiently attempt to find compromises between competing interests.
Baerbock and her Green Party have already hinted that India and China could not be new best friends of Germany due to their undemocratic leaders (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping). Not only the Green Party, but almost all the political parties in Germany consider Indian Prime Minister Modi as an Autocratic and overly Nationalist Politician, who has undermined Indian Democracy. As self-respecting German politicians hate former US President Donald Trump, they were not at all happy with PM Modi’s closeness to the Trump Administration.
Still, Berlin does not consider India as an emerging power. The new German Government is only interested in maintaining cordial business and trade ties with the South Asian nation. It is because Germany is India’s most important trading partner in the EU, ranking sixth on the scale of India’s globally most important trading partners. However, Foreign Minister Baerbock and Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Schulze would not try to improve German-Indian cooperation in the economic aid area mainly because of labour and social conditions in India.
As the Green Party is also not happy with the foreign policy of the US and its polarised domestic politics, Berlin might maintain a safe distance with the Joe Biden Administration, as well, including the potential return of Trump, with great suspicion. Washington DC’s chaotic withdrawal from war-ravaged Afghanistan, and signing the AUKUS deal with Australia and the UK have disappointed Germany and Europe. Now, it will be a great challenge for Berlin to rescue key German companies, especially the automobile companies, who have made themselves highly dependent on the Chinese market. It would certainly be a risky affair, as any policy mistake could annoy the top political leadership in Beijing, thus creating troubles for the European Powerhouse in the coming years.
Experts are of the opinion that a fierce battle between Scholz’s mighty real-political chancellery and the formidable and idealistic politics of Baerbock would shape the German foreign policy.
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