GZERO Media logo

Germany's Praktisch Foreign Policy

Germany's Praktisch Foreign Policy

The Trump administration’s transactional, shoot-from-the-hip foreign policy has put many of America’s allies on edge and forced them to reconsider long-held assumptions about who they call friend and foe. In Europe, it’s encouraging Germany to diversify its foreign policy relationships and act more boldly on the global stage.


Consider the latest developments:

  • Last weekend, Vladimir Putin arrived in Berlin for his first visit to Germany since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Putin and Chancellor Merkel discussed Syria, Ukraine, and the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who not long ago accused the German government of “Nazi practices” – has been invited for an official state visit in the fall. Merkel has expressed an eagerness to help Turkey, which is highly reliant on Germany economically, as it contends with mounting domestic economic trouble.
  • Berlin has also been actively making overtures to Beijing in an effort to shore up the support of its largest trading partner.

But this pragmatic approach to foreign policy has its limits. Berlin’s new single-issue “friends” – Russia on energy, Turkey as a hub for Syrian migrants, China with its massive domestic market – are hardly a substitute for a wayward United States. Germany wants to become less reliant on Russian gas, not more. And while Merkel favors continued trade with China, her government has also enacted restrictions on foreign investment aimed at addressing concerns about China’s growing influence over German businesses. Who knows how long Erdogan will play nice.

For countries in a deeply interconnected world, it’s always good to have a wide assortment of friends. But relationships sustained by interests as opposed to values can fall apart quickly. Interests can change overnight; values tend to be more durable. So while Germany and others eagerly seek out new partners, they will struggle to permanently fill the void left by the US.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

More Show less

The United States has never been more divided, and it's safe to say that social media's role in our national discourse is a big part of the problem. But renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher doesn't see any easy fix. "I don't know how you fix the architecture of a building that is just purposely dangerous for everybody." Swisher joins Ian Bremmer to talk about how some of the richest companies on Earth, whose business models benefit from discord and division, can be compelled to see their better angels. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take (part 1):

Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday. And have your Quick Take to start off the week.

Maybe start off with Biden because now President Biden has had a week, almost a week, right? How was it? How's he doing? Well, for the first week, I would say pretty good. Not exceptional, but not bad, not bad. Normal. I know everyone's excited that there's normalcy. We will not be excited there's normalcy when crises start hitting and when life gets harder and we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic and he has to respond to it. But for the first week, it was okay.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal