The legacy of German Angela Merkel is seen differently

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel waves goodbye as she leaves the Chancellery for the last time.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

With Russian President Vladimir PutinUnprovoked attack on Ukraine, political analysts are now reassessing the long and extremely complex relationship the Russian leader had with her former German chancellor Angela Merkeland how Moscow took control of the rest of Europe.

The former German leader was known to speak Russian and maintain diplomatic relations with him put it in the . It was also during her tenure Germany has strengthened its energy ties with Moscow And it kept spending on national defense to a minimum.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has now led to a radical shift in German politics.

“The powerful policy shifts of new chancellor Olaf Schulz are a stark rejection of the substance of Merkel’s foreign economic policy,” Jacob Kierkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund think tank, told CNBC by email.

“Germany’s foreign economic policy is no longer based on ‘Russia being a stability-oriented player’, but rather as an aggressive imperialist power,” Kierkegaard added.

Announced Schulz Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline stopped After Russia’s first military moves in two breakaway regions of Ukraine in late February. Nord Stream 2Its construction, which began in 2018 during Merkel’s presidency, is seen as a controversial project that was aimed at bringing additional gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, and circling around provinces such as Ukraine and Poland.

Daniela Schwarzer, executive director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Research Foundation, said Merkel’s “big failure” was not to reverse those economic ties and energy projects in the wake of Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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Indeed, Merkel has maintained her support for the gas pipeline, despite the concerns of Ukraine and other countries, particularly the United States.

Germany’s gas imports from Russia accounted for about 36% of its total in 2010, which rose to nearly 65% ​​by 2020, according to figures from Eurostat.

The German army is in bad shape.

Daniela Schwarzer

Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation

“No other country has underestimated Russia’s rebellious attitude toward the world order as Merkel’s Germany,” said Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU law at HEC Paris Business School.

Nord Stream 2 epitomizes Merkel’s appeasement approach to Russia, to the point that today it embodies everything that is wrong with Germany’s attitude toward Russia. By establishing an unnecessary relationship of interdependence with Vladimir Putin, Germany has made Merkel stronger while weakening the whole of Europe. and NATO.”

Schulz initially seemed cautious in his stance on Nord Stream 2 since he took office in December. However, as tensions with Russia escalated, he announced that Cessation of pipeline certification As many political analysts predicted.

More recently, as Russia advances its invasion of Ukraine, Schulz said Berlin will and will send weapons to Ukraine Increasing government investment in defense. This move signaled a major shift in German defense policy that had been in place since the end of World War II that prevented the export of home-made weapons to conflict areas.

“Merkel is incomplete” toward both NATO and the European Union, Schwarzer said. “part of [new] She added that money is not a new strategy, but rather the recognition of the need to do more, “noting that the German army” is in a bad situation.

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Open the door to refugees

But there is one area in which Merkel’s legacy remains intact: welcoming refugees. Merkel will always be reminded of her stand in 2015 at the height of the massive influx of refugees into Europe, when she implemented an open-door policy for those fleeing war from countries like Syria.

“Merkel’s very clear and candid stance on Syrian refugees has led to strong societal engagement in Germany,” said Schwarzer of the Open Society Foundation, adding that the policy now supports the reception of Ukrainian refugees as well.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than two million people have fled Ukraine. Although they arrive primarily in countries closer to Ukraine, some of them have also moved to Germany, where locals provide shelter and support.

More broadly, Schwarzer also said another part of Merkel’s legacy remains largely intact. Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, was seen as the de facto leader of the West during Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House, with critics asserting that America’s standing on the world stage had diminished somewhat with Trump as president.

Schwarzer said Schultz built on this idea, saying that he “says the same things but in a more realistic way.” “This sense of responsibility is continuity,” she added.

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