Germany must continue to be ‘integrative’ force between West and East Europe

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An opinion piece published by German newspaper Zeit Online looks at some of the challenges facing German foreign policy with regards to its relations with other European states. 

The article, written by Nora Mueller and Alisa Vogt of the Koerber Foundation, starts by analysing how Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has shifted the focus of European politics eastwards, away from the core of France, Benelux and Germany. In particular, it has caused a reflection on the fact that Western European nations all too often ignored the warning from Eastern states about the danger of Russian expansionism.  

These states have also been propelled into positions of greater importance due to their geographical proximity to the Ukrainian conflict and the role they have played as ‘first responders’. Furthermore, with the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO looking likely, Europe’s security interests have become more focused on the Baltic Sea region. 

The article also explores the issues that exist in two of Germany’s key relationships, with Poland and France. With regards to France, there are differences in policy on Ukraine and concerns how to maintain the “tandem” which has existed between the two countries within European politics. 

Meanwhile, in Poland, resentment against Germany is often stirred up as a feature of domestic politics. However, Germany’s acceptance of the need to abandon its previous Russia policy has facilitated a closening of relations. Yet there continues to be tension over the direction of internal politics in Poland. 

The article concludes by saying that in a period defined by turmoil, Germany must do all it can to serve its traditional role as a “integrative force to the East and West”. 

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