OpinionSociety

Key to New Germany: How We Should Build Relations with Merkel’s Successor

Angela Merkel expert

“The King is dead. Long live the King!” This phrase was heard thousands of times in European history. Merkel has been and still is a “democratic monarch.”

Germans respect her, her values, her authority, and her ability to solve crises. She has been the anti-crisis chancellor for her entire 16 years of tenure, but the phrase is unlikely to be heard when the new chancellor is welcomed.

For many Germans, Merkel has been a “mommy” – Mutti. A new chancellor is unlikely to be called a dad.

It is obvious to everyone that German policy must change. Look at those who voted for the main German political parties by age.

More than 30% of supporters of the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats are people over 60 years old. As for the Green Party and the Free Democrats, the ratio is exactly the opposite: up to 30% of their voters are young people.

The entire political system of postwar Germany was underpinned by balance, interaction and, sometimes, enmity between the two “people’s” parties. It was the basis of German political and economic stability, the German post-war miracle and the unique German export driver.

These elections show that German politics is on the verge of a leap. We just have to look whether it will be up or down.

“People’s” parties must either change radically or “join the angels.”

At these elections, they were rescued by boards such as “We will save your pensions” or slogans “Let it be as usual.” It will not work for the next ones.

Germany must find a new form of political system and political balance. Moreover, it needs to rethink its role in European and world politics: in both cases, it means greater responsibility, greater risk, more resources, and, ultimately, greater political will.

Most Germans are not ready for this and do not want to prepare. They live in reality, where a “bubble of comfort” strangely coexists with real or distorted pacifism.

All these years, German politicians have tried to reproduce and improve this status quo, delaying more ambitious and risky decisions.

You can do without school arithmetic and game theory, anticipating future coalitions in the Bundestag. This will be of great importance for Germany, much less for the EU and almost none for Ukraine.

A significant part of the German political class sees us through the prism of Russia. Germany is absolutely not interested in Russia’s increasing influence on Ukraine, but it is also not ready to step up pressure on Moscow or even to severely limit political or economic ties.

This is a consensus for the vast majority of German politicians – a kind of midline.

Is it possible to move away from it? Yes, it is, but only and exclusively through large-scale and ambitious attraction of German business in Ukraine, both large and medium-sized, which is the basis of German economic power.

Only if the Germans and German business are interested in our prospects, and they literally have something to lose in Ukraine, will Germany’s attitude to Ukraine change fundamentally, both in Berlin and in Brussels.

Deutsche Bahn as a strategic investor of Ukrzaliznytsia Ukrainian railways and German energy concerns as strategic investors in our infrastructure, as well as signs of German medium-sized business leaders throughout Ukraine, are a recipe for changing the paradigm of our relations.

Germany currently sees a green revolution. A “green tsunami” has hardly reached us. Moreover, this is not even a topic of political debate in the country.

Involving German technology to “reset” our energy efficiency seems like a dream, but it should become a reality.

Whatever the new German government is, it will certainly be clearly pragmatic. Security issues will be very difficult to negotiate. However, it will be easy to discuss the support for German business, if there is trust.

German business loves consistency, and our judicial system does not encourage it at all, while investment nannies raise flags. German business is used to working without nannies and, preferably, in a transparent manner.

This is how the slogan of the future Ukraine–Germany success story should look.

Then, the politics will come up, and our eastern border will become important for Germany and for the whole of EU in the future.

German business should make itself almost at home in Ukraine – this is the formula for the strengthening of Ukraine–Germany relations and our European integration.

Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine from 2014 to 2019, co-founder of the Centre for National Sustainability and Development

Source: Yevropeiska Pravda

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