Germany's Russia Policy under Angela Merkel: A Balance Sheet

By Meister, Stefan | The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, April 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Germany's Russia Policy under Angela Merkel: A Balance Sheet


Meister, Stefan, The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs


Introduction

Germany's Russia policy is in flux. In the past, Germany has always been an advocate of Russian interests in the European Union and a strategic partner in energy and economic cooperation. Over the last few years, though, we have observed increasing misunderstandings in bilateral relations, with both sides speaking about the same topics but having different priorities and interests. This has become particularly visible with the modernisation partnership that is the key project of Berlin's Russia policy: while Germany wants to develop projects with best practices that modernise Russia's economic and political system, Russian elites are primarily interested in technology transfers. This is combined with a decreasing interest in and knowledge of Russia among Germany's political elite. German businesses still find profit in Russia, but frustration about the ongoing lack of domestic reforms and the lack of progress in establishing rule of law and transparency is growing. The change in Germany's energy policy towards increased renewables and energy efficiency, coupled with Gazprom's inflexible policies, will have an important impact on German-Russian relations in the future.

The old consensus among the German elite that Russian integration in Europe is key to European security (as a fundamental basis of Germany's "Russia-first policy") still exists, but Germany lacks ideas on how to influence the Russian reform process. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Germany has developed an integrative policy towards Russia influenced by the "Ostpolitik" of Willy Brandt.1 The successful concepts of the 1970s and 1980s known as the policy of "change through rapprochement" ("Wandel durch Annäherung") are not feasible with the political and economic system under Vladimir Putin. The re-election of Putin as Russia's president in March 2012 and his rigorous policies against opposition and non-governmental organisations exacerbate disagreements within German political elites about their Russia policy. At the same time, social change in Russia opens the chance to evaluate previous German policy and find a new approach on the basis of a realistic assessment of the developments in Russia.

In this article, I analyse whether the current German approach towards Russia has been successful. The key question is whether there have been any changes in the policy during the Christian Democratic-Liberal government since 2009 and if so, what those changes mean for the continuity of German-Russian relations? First, I elaborate how the German government since 2009 has conceptualised its Russia policy. The second part looks into the knowledge in Germany about developments in Russia. The third section analyses German discourse on Russia, while the fourth part describes the role of German business in this relationship. The fifth underlines the changes in German-Russian energy relations and the sixth part examines the current concepts in Germany's Russia policy and the limits of their efficacy. In the conclusion, the question is answered how a more successful German Russia policy should look like.

The Limits of the "Strategic Partnership"

With the establishment of a Christian Democratic-Liberal government coalition (CDU/CSU and FDP) after parliamentary elections in 2009, relations between Germany and Russia moved away from their special partnership. With Angela Merkel, sobriety replaced the personal relationship between Helmut Kohl and Boris Yeltsin as well as that of Gerhard Schröder and Vladimir Putin. During Dmitry Medvedev's presidency, Merkel tried to limit meetings with Russian Prime Minister Putin to signal that she supports the "new, modern Russia" instead of the "old, Putin Russia." The role of the Foreign Office in Germany's Russia policy has changed under Liberal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. He has tried to distinguish himself with trips to smaller countries in the region but was never able to emphasise Germany's Russia policy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Germany's Russia Policy under Angela Merkel: A Balance Sheet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.