Merkel In Moscow

Fresh from asking G. W. Bush to put an end to Guantanamo, Anglea Merkel is now in Moscow. High on the list will be both Iran, and democracy in Russia. Quite timely really that someone who grew up in East Germany and can read the riot act to him in her most charming Russian should be catapulted into the front line like this.

Certain things seem to stand out:

Merkel………..agreed with U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday that it was time to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its refusal to abandon uranium enrichment technology that could enable it to get atomic weapons.

Germany is the world’s top exporter of goods to Iran and would have much to lose if Tehran faced sanctions. It exported 4 billion euros of goods to Iran last year.

The chancellor, who grew up in Germany’s formerly communist East and speaks fluent Russian, is under pressure from the opposition to confront Putin on reports that the development of democracy and human rights in Russia is slowing down.

“It seems that Putin will agree not to vote no, but will abstain. A yes vote would be better,”

As Alex noted, Merkel has already “been impressively successful in building authority in foreign affairs”. Could this be anything to do with the fact that authority-building on internal matters is likely to be much more uphill work, or could it be that we are going to see a German Foreign Affairs Chancellor, restricting herself internally to arbitrating between the otherwise warring factions of her government? That could be one way to make it work I suppose.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

4 thoughts on “Merkel In Moscow

  1. It’s a sensible enough model, and plays to her strength as a committee fixer. (This is roughly what I wrote in my current Brussels Sprout column)

  2. That’s how she’s approaching it. It’s quite a sensible approach to stay out of the coalition quarrels as long as possible. But that doesn’t mean she’s a foreign affairs chancellor, just that she is in a situation that requires a particular leadership style. Btw, given all the recent comparisons to Helmut Kohl – her leadership style is the complete opposite of Kohl. She doesn’t have his party background and she knows it and adjusts her style. She’s a character leader, but it’s not so obvious because she’s woman, I suppose. And that may also help because of a) now that she’s *in* power she seems to develop some sort of charm she did not have while involved in internal struggles b) she’ll still be underestimated most of the time.

    Oliver, that’s a bold statement. What’s “solving the unemployment situation” for you?

  3. In number? 7 to 8 % unemployment. Today there’s real fear of dropping down the social ladder when losing your job. As long as that persists nothing else matters.
    For Merkel that means that trouble will come soon. Given the policy of spending now and a VAT rise in 2007 she has just one shot. The development in health care and pensions mean that unpopular decisions must be made soon. Possibly gaining stature abroad to create a viable threat scenario is a good idea, but it cannot last.

    On a broader note, this makes me think about Hartz IV. Is it possible that this law in the long run will create a narrow focus on economic performance in German politics? If so, Gerhard Schröder shot the Greens into the back.

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