Angela Merkel’s legacy for the world and the Eastern Partnership

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And at a time when Germans are preparing to choose a replacement on September 26, according to a Pew Research Center poll, confidence in the German leader is at a record high in the world’s 16 most economically developed countries.

“Angela Merkel is still so popular in Germany that if she had run in this election, she and her party would probably have won.”– says Zaal Andronikashvili, a Georgian publicist party operating in Germany.

General elections will be held in Germany on September 26. According to opinion polls, Olaf Scholzia, the current Minister of Finance, is the Social Democrat (SPD) candidate. It is believed that the German elections will determine not only the future of this country, but also the future of Europe.

Angela Merkel – the most trusted leader

In five European countries: the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and France, trust in the German Chancellor exceeds 80%.

According to the poll, today, the German Chancellor has the highest trust rating out of the five world leaders included in the questionnaire.

The German Chancellor is much more popular than the leaders of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

Angela Merkel is slightly ahead of the leaders of the US, France and Canada, the leading democracies in their respective countries.

According to the study, the high level of trust in 67-year-old Angela Merkel and Germany is due to the fact that the country under her leadership has coped well with the coronavirus crisis. A positive view of Germany and its leader is also driven by the strengthening of Berlin’s role in the EU, with 54% of respondents in seven EU countries agreeing.

And not just in the EU. As Radio Liberty columnist Richard Jozwiak writes, Angela Merkel was considered the backbone of the Western liberal order, the de facto leader of the European Union, and the world’s most influential woman. Many Germans even referred to her simply as mutti – mother.

Chancellor’s complex “ethical decision”

During Merkel’s 16-year tenure as chancellor, analysts have focused on two historic decisions she has made.

“First, it was an unpopular move by Europe during the migrant crisis, when the German chancellor opened the country and allowed more than a million refugees into the country. It was an ethical decision that was not politically pragmatic, as it greatly damaged Merkel and boosted the ratings of right-wing radical parties. “But this ethical decision has allowed too many people to leave the countries where war and unrest were raging and something more or less normal is happening in Germany.”

The second, also historic decision during Angela Merkel’s presidency was the renunciation of nuclear energy, which is still controversial in Germany, especially over the North Stream 2 gas pipeline project signed with Russia, which Angela Merkel defended to the end with pragmatic views.

“Germany is doing a lot to replace all fossil fuels with renewable energy. It was, in fact, the “Green Revolution”, something that the German Greens had long demanded. This also left a very big mark on Germany. At the same time, such a trace, which is more or less the same for Georgia, but not in a good way, because this “North Stream 2” is not good for Ukraine and Georgia. “The gas pipeline directly connects Germany with Russia and makes Germany dependent on Russian gas.”– says Zaal Andronikashvili.

Berlin pragmatic foreign policy

In early September, Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom announced that it had completed construction of the North Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline, with a total capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year, will supply fuel from Russia across the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.

The United States, as well as Eastern European countries, have a critical attitude towards the pipeline. Many believe that Europe could become dependent on Russia for energy because of the pipeline, which would threaten Europe’s economic security, and at the same time, it could be used by Moscow as a means of putting pressure on Kiev.

Angela Merkel, who has unconditionally backed a package of sanctions against Russia over the annexation of Crimea and Alexei Navalny, opposed linking the construction of North Stream 2 to the Naval issue. As for Ukraine, which is in a state of undeclared war with Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her recent visit to Kiev, said that natural gas should never be used as a geopolitical weapon, and backed the extension of the energy partnership agreement with Ukraine. In.

Between NATO and Russia

Angela Merkel is also reprimanded in Ukraine and Georgia for not supporting the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) for these countries at the April 2008 Bucharest Summit.

Representatives of Georgia’s then political elite even called the decision of the NATO summit in 2008 the equivalent of Russia’s indirect veto.

“Russia has directly stated that in the event of NATO enlargement and if Georgia and Ukraine accept the MAP, it will be perceived by them as a direct provocation against Russia. Of course, this pressure from Russia was an important factor in the decision-making process. “ – said the current chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, MP Nino Nakashidze.

“Despite the opinion spread in Georgia, we can not consider Angela Merkel a politician who is sympathetic to Russia,” said Zaal Andronikashvili.

“But as for the North Stream 2 gas pipeline, as German analysts write, it is not so much a foreign policy as a domestic political decision. And it was actually the German business lobby that made that decision, and then Merkel defended this once-made decision based on her own principles. But it is clear that relations with Russia have not calmed down since (Gerhard) Schroeder. On the contrary, relations between Germany and the European Union (Russia) in general have deteriorated. But Merkel was not known as a rigid politician in other crisis cases. He was and is known as a good crisis manager, but apart from the two tough steps I mentioned, he will not take such steps in foreign policy. ”

An anachronistic policy reminder

Maybe it is because of such a balanced foreign policy in international relations that Angela Merkel is so popular? Maybe more than the political choirs of the Western world need crisis managers like Merkel right now?

“I think that such a policy of balance has no future, because there are systemic opponents in the world order, against whom only a regime of dialogue will not be successful.” – Mikheil Sarjveladze, a visiting researcher at the German Foundation for Science and Politics (SWP), told Radio Liberty.

“These forces, I’m talking about China and Russia, are trying to undermine liberal democracies. And with such a policy, Germany is offending its key allies as well. I therefore think that such a balancing foreign policy is anachronistic and a reminder of the historical fears that Germany might again be isolated. “While the current situation in the modern world and in Europe requires Germany to take more responsibility, more leadership, within the EU, to make the EU a more active geopolitical player around the world.” – Merkel was often accused of not having a clear vision of the future of Germany and Europe and finding it difficult to make difficult decisions. However, he still managed to tie his country and the EU together through compromises and tense negotiations.

His era will finally end on September 26, when the Germans will go to the polls.

“According to the latest polls, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has the largest support. Its support is about 25%. It is followed by the “Union”, ie Christian-Democratic and Christian-Social Union, respectively, in the current situation, the SPD candidate Olaf Scholz has the best chance of becoming chancellor, which was really unbelievable about a month or two ago, because the party’s rating is about 15% Was. But nothing is ruled out, and German Chancellor Armin Lachette, a CDU / CSU candidate, could also become one. “The difference between these two forces is just 2-3%, which may change on election day.” – says Mikheil Sarjveladze.

As for Germany’s foreign policy towards the “Eastern Partners” program, which is important for Georgia, not only the EU program but also the European Union does not play a decisive role in the pre-election programs of the leading German parties, which Mikheil Sarjveladze usually considers a normal event.

“During the election debate, foreign policy was generally given much less attention than domestic policy. “The same Eastern Partnership plays no role in the election programs, only the Green Party is the only one that openly states in its election program that the EU should leave the door open for associate members of the Eastern Partnership.”

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