MEP Márton Gyöngyösi’s (Non-attached) thoughts via press release:
In the next few days, the transfer of Leopard tanks to Ukraine will mark the end of a fifty-year era in Germany’s foreign policy. Launched back in the day by Chancellor Willy Brandt as (then West) Germany’s eastern policy, Ostpolitik seems to have failed after half a century, and its demise was not pretty, either.
Although the idea of West Germany improving its relations with the Socialist Block was a completely new approach under the premises of the Cold War back then, it was also quite logical: in fact, it was the eastern roll-out of what Bonn had already been doing westwards for years. Letting go of its classic power and territorial claims and converting them into economic influence made Germany’s western half, despite all the WW2 destruction, a major pillar of the Euro-Atlantic block. In all likelihood, the Social Democrat-driven reconciliation with the east had its ideological motivations, but the move brought some pragmatic benefits as well.
Germany reappeared in Eastern Central Europe, the very area where it had always been considered as a dominant power.
After the collapse of Communism, Ostpolitik seemed to have reached its peak not only in terms of the EU-bound Central European countries but in relation with Moscow, too. Germany consistently followed this line even when its good relations with the Russian leadership was often frowned upon by other western countries.
After acknowledging all its achievements however, we must now state that the German political agenda, which was aimed at maintaining balanced relations with Russia and using Russia’s resources to supply the German industry’s energy needs, has failed.
No matter how hard Germany strived for a rational and business-driven approach, Russia’s dreams of being a great power and its imperialistic ideology drowned the two country’s economic relations as well. So Berlin has no choice but to realize two things (and it must be especially painful for a Soc-Dem government): 1) you can’t treat Russia with excessive leniency and 2) you can’t always replace value-driven diplomacy with a strictly business or purely rational approach.
Albeit slowly, Germany will eventually draw the conclusion, and has already clearly stood by Ukraine and the west in this conflict. The biggest question is what reference points will German foreign policy identify in the future: will the country break with the self-imposed paradigm of channelling its full power into the economy while restraining itself in political and military affairs? Of course, there’s another question as well: how many more unpleasant surprises will it take for Germany to finally make the change?
Disclaimer: the sole liability for the opinions stated rests with the author(s). These opinions do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Parliament.