Leonid Slutsky: “In Germany, a coalition agreement has been reached on the formation of a new government, which should be headed by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz. The official election of the new German chancellor by the Bundestag will take place in early December.
German media are publishing excerpts from a nearly 200-page coalition agreement that will form a three-party cabinet of Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats. The main portfolios have already been allocated. After 16 years in power, the conservatives from the CDU / CSU, whose leader and chancellor was Angela Merkel, found themselves in opposition.
What does this mean for Russia? On the one hand, it was under the Social Democrats at the head of the German government that first the USSR and then Russia had the best relations with the FRG. Suffice it to recall their names – in Soviet times Willy Brandt (the author of the famous Ostpolitik – the “new Eastern policy” of rapprochement with the GDR and the countries of Eastern Europe), Helmut Schmidt, and already under the new Russia – Gerhard Schroeder.
Does this mean that now bilateral relations will improve? I would like to hope for such an opportunity. Moreover, the published text of the coalition agreement states that the German government is ready for a constructive dialogue with Russia.
On the one hand, German experts believe that Scholz as the new chancellor is “an acceptable candidate” for Russia. Although he himself has already made it clear that he does not intend to build “special relations” with Moscow, as Gerhard Schroeder did. And here we will be frank, no matter who the chancellor of Germany is, his hands will still to a certain extent be tied by dependence on the United States and NATO, on the one hand, and on the European Union, on the other. Back in 2016, Scholz said that no scenario is “plausible” in which Russia has a good, special relationship with Germany – and at the same time a difficult relationship with the EU as a whole. So Berlin will most likely follow the same track on significant foreign policy issues. It has already been announced that the new government “will support the territorial integrity of Ukraine” and promises to advocate new sanctions against Belarus if Minsk “does not change course.”
At the same time, Olaf Scholz has repeatedly and unequivocally expressed support for Nord Stream 2, the SPD is traditionally associated with large energy companies. The Free Democrats, a party associated with big business, take the same position.
Difficulties can be caused by the presence in the government of the “Greens” – the only party in Germany that opposes “Nord Stream-2”. Moreover, their leader Annalene Berbock, according to the same German media, should get the post of foreign minister. But she more than once made anti-Russian statements, and spoke out categorically against the commissioning of a new pipeline.
Here one can only count on the fact that, as practice shows, pre-election statements are often forgotten when, after a party comes to power, it comes to real politics. And not everyone in the Green Party is as categorical as Berbock. For example, Omid Noripur, a member of the Union 90 / Greens faction in the Bundestag, just called the new US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 unacceptable.
Moreover, let us not forget that the Minister of Foreign Affairs cannot pursue an independent foreign policy that runs counter to the line of the Chancellor. Experts urge not to fear the special anti-Russian activity of the German Foreign Ministry. In their opinion, these will be rather external effects, and all significant decisions will be made by Scholz’s team.
But before drawing conclusions, we need to look at what concrete steps the new government will take. “