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The Quest for European Sovereignty | Jan. 2022 |

Just hours after taking office on December 8, 2021, Olaf Scholz, the new German chancellor, clearly laid out his policy on Russia. Interviewed by the German TV station ARD, he was asked what his new government--a coalition of his center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP)--planned to do about tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Scholz mentioned three key points: first, talks continued to be important, second, the West must make clear that European borders cannot be changed by force. Third, if they were somehow changed by force, then that must bring about "clear consequences."

Having made these remarks on Russia, Scholz went on to explain: "I want us again to remember two Social Democratic Chancellors: Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt. Those two leaders, whose policies of Ostpolitik and détente laid the groundwork for democracy in many European countries, where once there had been communist dictatorships. They laid the groundwork for the Iron Curtain to be dismantled, and for our shared existence within the European Union." In other words, as he took office, the first SPD chancellor since 2005 positioned himself as successor to Brandt, the SPD's biggest post-war father figure. An outsize statue of the former chancellor dominates the atrium of SPD's federal headquarters in Berlin, Willy Brandt House.

Scholz' remarks on the day had two functions. Within the party, the invocation of the new chancellor's predecessors epitomized new pride within its ranks after its recent election win. But the specific mention of Brandt--a much-loved figure across the SPD--also served to consolidate party unity. Scholz' carefully-chosen examples were also a reply to the Christian Democratic Union, the SPD's former coalition partner, now in opposition. The conservative CDU has its own traditions, running counter to those of the SPD, and it likes to remind people of its long record of supplying iconic post-war leaders.

The other purpose of Scholz' comments was far more general, aimed at audiences well outside his own political party. The three specific points on Russia were a clear formulation of the policy Scholz has followed on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and which he has continued to follow until now.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Mar 16th, 2022 at 10:08:44 PM EST
What Is Ostpolitik?

The actual foreign policy that Scholz' three-point approach meant to embody was not very different from that of his predecessor Angela Merkel. Nonetheless, his specifically Social Democratic use of the term "Ostpolitik" triggered vehement reactions in Germany. Some questioned the use of the word itself in the present era.

"The use of the term `Ostpolitik' was very unfortunate," said Gwendolyn Sasse, director of Berlin's Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOIS). The term may provoke positive connotations among Social Democrats, she said, "but reaction [to it] in Central and Eastern Europe is highly negative." The word "Ostpolitik" can stir up fears among Germany's eastern neighbors that Berlin may go it alone on Russia, ignoring the wishes of countries like Poland. These historical concerns are genuine, although they have at times also been cultivated by Eastern European governments, keen to use to them for domestic political benefit.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Mar 16th, 2022 at 10:09:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik policy of openness towards Kremlin

The year 1969 marked a turning point in the political life of West Germany. For the first time since the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in 1949, the Christian Democrats were excluded from the government. The Social-Liberal coalition headed by Willy Brandt from October of that year sought a new direction for foreign policy and to break the existing taboos. The major powers were keeping a close eye on the East-West rapprochement policy pursued by the new Chancellor, but they did not intervene.

On 28 November 1969, the FRG signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with the USSR. This policy of normalising relations and openness towards the East, known as 'Ostpolitik', was established within the overall context of East-West détente and sought to restore the economically powerful West Germany to its rightful place on the international stage.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Mar 16th, 2022 at 10:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Willy Brandt a statesman respected and loved in America

Visit to the Soviet Union -- 2-9 July 1975

Willy Brandt is received like a state visitor when he arrives in Moscow on 2 July 1975. The SPD chairman is responding to an invitation by General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, with whom he conducts two extensive discussions on 3 and 9 July. The subjects include German-Soviet relations, the future of détente policies after the impending conclusion of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) as well as developments in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region.
Concerning the situation in Portugal, Brandt gives Brezhnev a letter from Mário Soares and appeals to him to exercise a moderating influence on the Portuguese communists. During his one-week visit in the Soviet Union, the former Chancellor also travels to Leningrad, Novosibirsk (Siberia) and Samarkand (Uzbekistan).

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Mar 16th, 2022 at 10:14:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Proud to wear UID #40 here @ET 😅

Always had great respect for Berlin mayor Willy Brandt ... he visited the States on many occasions. I recall listening to a late night talk show interview from the "home" of Stan Musial, a retired St. Louis Cardinals baseball great. An outstanding statesman Europe can be proud of. Solving fiscal and economic problems to consolidate Das Deutsche Wirtschaftswunder of the Adenauer and Erhard period of rebuilding West-Germany.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Mar 17th, 2022 at 08:35:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It will be hard to negociate with the ultras after we arm them and offer them the country on a plate...
From 2015:
"When Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's prime minister, told a German TV station recently that the Soviet Union invaded Germany, was this just blind ignorance? Or a kind of perverted wishful thinking? If the USSR really was the aggressor in 1941, it would suit Yatsenyuk's narrative of current geopolitics in which Russia is once again the only side that merits blame.

When Grzegorz Schetyna, Poland's deputy foreign minister, said Ukrainians liberated Auschwitz, did he not know that the Red Army was a multinational force in which Ukrainians certainly played a role but the bulk of the troops were Russian? Or was he looking for a new way to provoke the Kremlin?"

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/19/frontline-ukraine-crisis-in-borderlands-richard-sakwa- review-account

by Tom2 on Thu Mar 17th, 2022 at 10:19:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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