Nov 11, 2021
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Germany: Berlin will no longer dance to the tune of Russians

Photo: SPD candidate for German chancellor Olaf Scholz

Photo: SPD candidate for German chancellor Olaf Scholz (Photo: dpa / picture-alliance / TASS)

The most likely contender for the post of German Chancellor Social Democrat Olaf Scholz does not intend to build a “special relationship” with Moscow, writes Bild. Scholz himself blew up the fog, declaring that he would profess “the principle of a village disco: dance with those in the hall.” I wonder how this “dance” will affect the interests of Russian-German business?

The publication believes that Scholz’s practical policy will differ from the work of his immediate predecessor – Angela Merkel (sometimes sending Vladimir Putin German beer) and the German Chancellor in 1998-2005 Gerhard Schroeder, who now holds a high position in Rosneft (headed by a friend of the President of the Russian Federation Igor Sechin).

At the end of October, Angela Merkel officially resigned as chancellor. In the parliamentary elections in September, Scholz’s party, the SPD, won with 25.7% of the vote. As a result of the coalition negotiations of the Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals, which are currently taking place, a government of the Federal Republic of Germany is to be formed in December.

German political scientist Alexander Rahr noted that the new Chancellor of Germany faces more serious challenges than during the reign of Angela Merkel.

– Scholz has not yet come to power … I think that the course will not change for now. There will be different points of view, including with regard to Russia. I think Scholz adheres to a policy of improving relations with Moscow and is against closing platforms for dialogue. But there will be Greens in his government. And they believe that it is necessary to speak with Russia in a harsh language.

The Greens are militant and intend to work towards Russia’s observance of human rights. I don’t think they will be able to stop Nord Stream 2, it has already been built, and there is hardly anything they can do. But further projects in the energy sector will not be encouraged. It is important what kind of posts the Greens will receive in the new office. Some friction may appear.

Moreover, the world is changing. There are more problems now than during the reign of Merkel. Pandemic, refugees, it all hits on social issues. Britain left the EU, and now the question of Poland’s withdrawal is being raised. For Scholz, European issues come first. We need to see how Germany will position itself.

Alexander, Leading Researcher, Center for German Studies, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences Kamkin I am sure that, despite the anti-Russian position of the Greens, pragmatism will prevail in the economy.

– German business is represented in Russia in a variety of areas by fairly large companies. For example, Siemens has a plant in Voronezh for the production of equipment for the power industry, in Perm for the production of valves, compressors, there is a production of equipment for wind turbines, Russian Railways cooperates with Siemens in many areas.

I do not think that the change of government in Germany will negatively affect this business. German companies are free enough. Unless, of course, we are not talking about extraterritorial sanctions, as was the case in Iran, from where large German companies were forced to leave. Moreover, the SPD has traditionally been an economic expediency party.

“SP”: – And what about the SPD coalition partners? Or does it depend on the specific distribution of posts?

– The presence of the Greens in the office will be a negative factor. Because they have a very tough not only environmental agenda, sometimes reaching extreme, but also anti-Russian orientation due to value conflicts. There may be some difficulties, but on the whole, for German business in the context of Russian-German relations, such a transit of power should proceed rather smoothly.

Leader of the Greens Annalena Berbock may take the post of foreign minister. The Treasury can go to free democrats. The key posts related to the economy are likely to go to the Social Democrats. Scholz promised to complete the formation of the cabinet by the twentieth of December. Let’s see how the Bundestag will take his proposals and his candidacy.

“SP”: – It is generally accepted in Russia that much in Russian-German, including economic contacts, is connected with Putin’s personal relations with Merkel. Merkel is gone …

– I think this is an attempt to pass off wishful thinking. See how Merkel has drastically changed her rhetoric lately. She admitted that she had disagreed with the Russian president on many issues almost since 2001. Yes, Putin knows Germany well, speaks German, and Merkel speaks Russian, but this is all work for the public. There is no friendship in politics.

So Russia will not lose anything with Merkel’s departure. There will be a new leader, a pragmatic approach based on mutual benefit. This is the most solid foundation for a relationship.

According to withDeputy Director of the Institute of Europe RAS Vladislav BelovaMoscow needs to create the best conditions for doing business itself, and not rely on German politicians.

– German business in Russia does not depend on Germany, but on Russia. He is not determined by one or another coalition in Berlin, but goes wherever it suits him. What is happening in Germany is secondary. German business can go to the United States because the market is bigger there. But Russia is not such, which means that the flag is in the hands of the new State Duma, Vladimir Vladimirovich, the government. Business is affected by framework conditions, localization, import substitution, restrictions on the import of equipment, utilization fee etc.

“SP”: – Does the political background really mean nothing?

– The picture in the media will not get better. As there was a political negative, it will remain so. The “quivering deer” of small and medium-sized German businesses do not really like the evil Kremlin. It’s easier for them to go to Poland, the Czech Republic. But someone comes anyway. Yesterday a representative of one of the land chambers of commerce and industry promised me to continue to focus on Russia. With regard to hydrogen, green energy, this began under the last government and will continue.

I hope that the 22 working groups formed in the coalition negotiations will come to an agreement and by November 30 we will see the coalition agreement.

– Now the SPD, the Greens and the liberals are trying to come to an agreement, – sums up Fyodor Basov, Research Fellow, Department of European Political Studies, IMEMO… – Apparently, the CDU / CSU clearly indicated their desire to be in opposition. With a 90% probability, they will lead the coalition process to the formation of a government. True, the coalition talks failed four years ago. Then there were the CDU / CSU, the Greens and the liberals, who just got out of this process.

SP: – How will the distribution of portfolios in the new cabinet affect German business in Russia?

– The most significant portfolio is the Minister of Finance, for which all parties will fight. Of course, the Social Democrats will want to keep it for themselves. The post of foreign minister has traditionally been given to a junior coalition partner. This means that it can go to either the Greens or the liberals. At the same time, the liberals apply for the post of Minister of Economy and Energy, believing that this is their strong point. But since the two directions – economy and energy – are combined into one ministry, the Greens are also applying for it. In my opinion, the distribution of posts in the new cabinet will not affect German business in Russia in any way.

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