Receiving his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, the following week, Scholz announced that India, who he called "Germany’s central partner in Asia," would benefit from €10 billion in funding by 2030 aimed at boosting cooperation in the fight against climate change and continued development of hydrogen technologies.
While Scholz was in Japan, the Bundestag adopted a resolution calling on China to help work towards a ceasefire in Ukraine, as well as warning it against circumventing Western sanctions. Beijing remains Germany’s largest trading partner, but following the Greens - who have long advocated a change in strategy - German officials are beginning to adopt a more cautious approach. Finance Minister Christian Lindner is looking to redesign the economic model for relations with China, while SPD chair Lars Klingbeil has called to draw lessons from Russia’s aggression and to support moves towards ending Germany’s dependence on the Chinese market. Leaders of the BDA and the AHK, the two largest employer federations in Germany, have come to realize that Merkel-era approaches are no longer appropriate. Central and Eastern European countries are more important trading partners than China. Furthermore, a law requiring German companies to ensure social and environmental standards in their supply chains will be coming into effect in 2023, and could pose significant problems for German companies operating in Xinjiang, where forced labor is widespread.
How will this model affect Germany’s European policy?
Putin’s aggression against Ukraine has also called into question what historian Gerd Koenen called "the Russia Complex" in his book of the same name. This idea is rooted in the economic compatibility between Germany and Russia, as well as what Koenen sees as "spiritual affinities" (Seelenverwandtschaften) between the two nations. However, this Russocentric view overlooks countries such as Ukraine and Belarus and the derived attempts to conflate modern Russia and the USSR, which seem so outdated today, were still prevalent until recently: for example, President Steinmeier invoked Nazi crimes against the USSR in his attempts to justify the construction of Nord Stream 2. Within the EU, the errors Berlin has shown towards Putin’s regime has strengthened the hand of those Central European and Baltic countries that have consistently warned of the Russian threat. Sanctions and drastic reductions in Russian energy supplies will inevitably lead to a sharp drop in bilateral trade and a rebalancing of Germany’s dealings with the region. Any return to normality in relationships with Russia seems a very distant prospect, at least as long as Putin remains in power.
A reconstruction of Germany’s strategic culture will be a further consequence of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The creation of a national security council, as provided for in the coalition agreement, should not only improve coordination between foreign and defense policies but also contribute to spreading this new culture. Furthermore, the return of war to the European continent has made it even more necessary to rapidly overcome the difficulties encountered by ongoing Franco-German armament projects. For Merkel’s diplomatic advisor Christof Heusgen and former Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, it also increases the urgent need to build, in conjunction with the French, a new "European security architecture as an autonomous part of NATO," as the military might of the United States remains indispensable to the defense of the European continent. However, with the next US presidential election of November 2024, time is of the essence to make this project happen.
Copyright: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
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