New Aspects of Discourse about the Berlins Realpolitik

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-59-12-30-40

V. Vasil'ev, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The article investigates approaches taken by major political parties and civil society in the FRG toward the Transatlantic partnership. It reveals the tendencies of the prospective promotion of Berlin’s cooperation with Washington; the article also gives a forecast of further interaction between the EU and the USA, indicates the direction of discourse regarding the future Russia–Germany relations model in the context of the Ukrainian crisis and in reference to the increased transatlantic solidarity. Disputes in German socio-political circles on the issue of the FRG’s policy toward the U.S. are emerging all the time, but they have to be considered within a concrete historical and political context. Being of primary significance for all German chancellors, the Trans-Atlantic factor has been shaping itself in a controversial way as to the nation’s public opinion. This has been confirmed by many opinion polls, including the survey on the signing of the EU–U.S. Agreement on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Chancellor A. Merkel is playing an important role: she is either ascribed full compliancy with Washington, or is being tentatively shown as a consistent government figure in advancing and upholding of Germany's and the EU's interests. A. Merkel has implemented her peace-seeking drive in undoing the Ukrainian tangle by setting up the “Normandy format” involving the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine while having cleared it through with the U.S. President B. Obama well in advance. Despite the increasing criticism of Washington’s policy among some part of Germans, for the majority of German voters, the USA remains a country of implementable hopes, the only power in the world possessing a high education level and the most advanced technologies. Americans, for their part, are confident of the important role that Berlin plays in world politics, particularly in what concerns the maintenance of unity within the EU. Berlin aims at further constructive interaction with the USA in the frame of NATO as well as within other Trans-Atlantic formats. Notwithstanding the steady tendency toward increasing of the Washington policy’s critical perception degree in German society, officially Berlin continues as Washington’s true ally, partner and friend. There is every reason to believe that after the 2017 Bundestag elections, the new (the former) Chancellor will have to face a modernized Trans-Atlantic partnership philosophy, with a paradigm also devised in the spirit of the bloc discipline and commitments to allies. The main concern for Berlin is not to lose its sovereign right of decision-making, including the one that deals with problems of European security and relations with Moscow. Regrettably, Germany is not putting forward any innovative ideas on aligning a new architecture of European security with Russia’s participation. Meanwhile, German scholars and experts are trying to work out a tentative algorithm of a gradual return to the West’s full-fledged dialogue with Russia, which, unfortunately, is qualified as an opponent by many politicians. Predictably, the Crimea issue will remain a long-lasting political irritant in relations between Russia and Germany. Although not every aspect of Berlin’s activation in its foreign policy finds support of the German public, and the outburst of anti-American feeling is obvious, experts believe that the government of the FRG is “merely taking stock of these phenomena and ignores them”. Evident is the gap between the government's line and the feeling of the German parties’ basis – the public. It is noteworthy that the FRG has not yet adopted the Law on Holding General Federal Referendums on key issues of the domestic and foreign policy. There is every indication to assume that the real causes of abandoning the nationwide referendums are the reluctance of the German ruling bureaucracy and even its apprehensions of the negative voting returns on sensitive problems, – such as basic documents and decisions of the EU, the export of German arms, relations with the U.S., etc. The harmony between Berlin’s "Realpolitik" and German public opinion is not yet discernible within the system of Trans-Atlantic axes.

Keywords: Trans-Atlantic relations, Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement between EU and USA, EU army, cooperation between Germany and Russia

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For citation:
Vasiliev V. New Aspects of Discourse about the Berlins Realpolitik. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, vol. 59, no. 12, pp. 30-40.

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