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Tag: Germany

Leading a rethink of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is no longer seen as attractive today as it was ten years ago. However, some key differences in approaches to China are emerging throughout Europe. This is evident when analysing German engagement towards China, versus that of Southeast Europe.

It has been ten years since the inauguration of China’s flagship foreign economic policy – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese President Xi Jinping has labelled the BRI as the “project of the century.” Many of the more than 140 participating countries have ample reason to take stock of the benefits and drawbacks of their cooperation with, and integration into, this geopolitical and geo-economic project.

November 20, 2023 - Jens Bastian

A story about the Elbe. A story about Europe

European civilisation has developed by means of a few large leaps: Rome, Renaissance, Enlightenment and the European Union. Of course, the EU’s role is still underway and thus we do not know what its end will look like. But what all these leaps have in common is their connection to the land. In this way, the story of the Elbe river and its surroundings is the story of European history as a whole.

I was commissioned to write a book about the Elbe river by the Labirynt Publishing House in Czechia. I have known the publisher – Joachim Dvořák – since 1990. Labirynt is known for publishing good books with very nice covers. That is why I was happy to receive its offer and more than anything else that the topic of my new book would be about the river. In my youth, I was racing in fast-flowing upper rivers.

November 16, 2023 - Jan Šícha

The anatomy of betrayal

The story of local Belarusians who collaborated with Nazi Germany is often a forgotten page of history. Yet, their brutal tactics and participation in the extermination of Jews and other populations are a sad reminder of life under occupation, as was the case of the Barysau police officers.

I remember when I was a small boy, I used to ride my bike with my grandfather. In one village near Babruisk, my grandfather would start a conversation with a local resident. The villager would ask, “Are you interested in the history of the war?” “Do you see the house on the left? A policeman lived there. So there was a lot of blood on the hands of this policeman. He shot Jews and Soviet POWs. He didn’t run away with the Germans; he was hiding here. Caught, and tried. Got a quarter, 25 years. No one else had seen him here.”

September 11, 2023 - Ihar Melnikau

Noch ist Polen nicht verloren! Germany, Poland – and Ukraine?

There seems to be a widespread inability in Germany to look at oneself from the position of others and to accept the intricacies of history and memory and their influence on the present. But it is not only the perception of place in the past that is the problem. For some in Germany everything east of the Oder river today is still lumped together as “Eastern Europe”.

February 24th 1940, the concentration camp of Hohenbruch in East Prussia: on the eve of his 50th birthday, the Polish publisher, writer and activist Seweryn Pieniężny Jr. is beaten up, forced to dig his own grave and then, in his underwear, shot by Nazi guards. According to the writer Eugeniusz Tryniszewski, who published a short biography of Seweryn in 1987, his last words, shouted in German so his executors would understand, were “Noch ist Polen nicht verloren!”, Poland has not yet perished – the first line of the Polish national anthem.

April 28, 2023 - Marcel Krueger

Germany, France, Poland and the future of the European Union

Numerous tensions, deepened by Russia’s war with Ukraine, high inflation and the energy crisis, generate our anxiety about the future of the European project. Especially as the proposals that are put forward may actually lead to a greater fragmentation and further “unsealing” of the European Union. This, in turn, can only impede its further development.

March 9, 2023 - Eugeniusz Smolar

German hesitation is costing Ukrainian lives

An interview with Roland Freudenstein, Vice President and Head of GLOBSEC Brussels. Interviewer: Vazha Tavberidze for RFE/RL's Georgian service.

January 24, 2023 - Roland Freudenstein Vazha Tavberidze

What Germany does not know

The end of the balance of power in the EU with policies decided by so-called “old Europe” could be one key consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This ongoing shift needs to result in a strategic alliance between Poland and Germany. However, is this possible?

December 14, 2022 - Anna Kwiatkowska

After Ostpolitik. Perspectives for future relations between Moscow and Berlin

Any normalisation of relations with Russia will only take place once Moscow gives up its imperial ambitions and pays for its crimes. There should be no notion of a new policy towards the Kremlin without change at the top and the complete removal of its threat to European security. We cannot repeat the mistakes of 1991.

Germany’s post-reunification Ostpolitik has ended in a national and European disaster. A policy that was supposed to foster peace, stability and reconciliation has resulted in war and an energy crisis. This is not to say that Germany is to blame for the aggression against Ukraine. The responsibility clearly lies with the criminal policies of Vladimir Putin and his regime. Nevertheless, Berlin needs to accept that post-reunification Ostpolitik, especially in the last 15 years, helped to enable the Kremlin to pursue its attacks on neighbours.

December 8, 2022 - Jan Claas Behrends

Strategies for the German Baltic Sea Council presidency during the Zeitenwende

Berlin's ongoing presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States could not have come at a more crucial time. Faced with increasing regional uncertainty in light of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Germany must now take decisive action to ensure continued high-level cooperation in the area.

On July 1st, Germany took over the presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). Cooperation among the states bordering the Baltic Sea has become more important in view of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Currently the CBSS has ten member states plus the European Commission. In March 2022, Russia’s membership, as well as the observer status of Belarus was suspended by the other member states from CBSS activities while in May it decided to withdraw from the council. Ukraine has an observer mandate with increasing strategic importance in the CBSS.

December 7, 2022 - Iris Kempe

Modern East Germany’s dependence on Russian oil evokes old divisions

Germany’s decision to pursue the European Union’s plans to stop importing crude oil from Russia has stirred up social tension in the East German town of Schwedt. Despite reassurances from the government in Berlin, the town, which hosts Germany’s largest oil refinery dependent on Russian oil, is fearful of the aftereffects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

From her office on the outskirts of the quiet town of Schwedt in Brandenburg, a German town bordering Poland that stretches for miles, Gabriele Manteufel points to a huge, sprawling maze of pipes, furnaces and tankers. It all comes together to make a gigantic refinery. Every day the CEO’s sons come by to fill up the family-owned tankers with propane, a by-product of refined oil. They then dispatch the gas to their customers in this north-eastern region.

December 7, 2022 - Isabelle de Pommereau

Germany as a bellwether for post-war European energy security

The interdependence between Russia and Germany has also created geopolitical and security concerns for the EU. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany needs to now understand that domestic and European energy security are intertwined. There are several measures that Germany can adopt in order to address this energy security dilemma in the short and long term, taking into account geopolitical circumstances at the EU level.

Three days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende – a turning point in the history of East-West relations. His speech in the Bundestag was meant to mark a generational change in German foreign policy towards Russia. When Chancellor Scholz declared that Germany would, in a gradual process, dramatically reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies, it launched a debate among German policymakers that has reverberated across Europe. While the goal is apparent, to extricate Germany from Russian energy dependence with minimal economic trauma, there is still no consensus on how to achieve this.

September 29, 2022 - Ismet Fatih Čančar Marc Ozawa

A gap in Polish-German relations

Over 30 years have passed since Germany reunified and signed a pivotal agreement on bilateral affairs with Poland. Meant to signal the start of a new age of co-operation, the treaty’s spirit has nonetheless been challenged by numerous issues both old and new. A renewed agreement is now needed to build a shared future free from the ghosts of the past.

September 29, 2022 - Kinga Gajda

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