Uniting Europe to deal with the crisis, what diplomatic legacy did Merkel leave behind during her 16 years in power?
China News Service, September 13th. According to foreign media reports, German Chancellor Merkel is about to step down. During her 16 years in power, she has deeply imprinted German foreign policy. From the beginning, Merkel personally structured foreign policy instead of entrusting it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Germany’s global influence has increased, and at the same time, challenges in the field of international politics have also increased.
In the euro crisis, Germany played a leading role
In 2008, when the global financial crisis broke out, Merkel also switched to a crisis mode. The euro, a symbol of European unity and one of the strongest currencies in the world, has encountered unprecedented pressure. Merkel issued a warning, “Once the euro collapses, the European Union will also be annihilated.”
Germany, the strongest country in Europe’s economy under the leadership of Merkel, is not willing, but has no choice but to provoke European leaders. On the one hand, the German government forced countries with high debts to embark on the path of fiscal simplification and reform. On the other hand, Merkel agreed to introduce a large-scale rescue plan, and Germany’s guarantee of other countries’ debts was greatly improved.
The fact that other EU countries basically recognize Germany’s leadership role is due to Merkel’s careful and keen words and deeds. According to Warwick, a political scholar at Halle University, Merkel combines a “culture of caution” with a “culture of responsibility”.
The German-French partnership is no longer close
The distribution of power in Europe fluctuates from one to the other. Germany’s role becomes more important, and France’s weight decreases.
Although, Merkel has repeatedly declared that France is the closest ally, so much so that the media referred to her cooperation with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy as “Merkozy”. However, many French presidents, including Macron, have issued a call to deepen the EU, that is, to create the post of EU Finance Minister, but Merkel is unmoved.
German foreign policy researcher Hoff believes that Merkel is missing a good opportunity here, and Warwick also believes that Germany and France are “gradually moving apart”, saying that Merkel lacks “foresight” in promoting EU integration. “.
What made Merkel famous internationally was a decision made at the end of the summer of 2015, which was also a watershed for her praise at home and abroad. Merkel made the decision alone to open the border to refugees stranded in Hungary.
Because of this decision, in 2015 “Time Magazine” selected Merkel as “Man of the Year” and called it the “Prime Minister of the Free World”. But another group of people, who bear the brunt of Eastern European countries, are very dissatisfied with Merkel, thinking that she is trying to impose a generous refugee policy on the entire European Union.
Relations with Washington are cold
At first, Merkel was an enthusiastic supporter of transatlantic policy. As an opposition politician, she once supported the Iraq war launched by former US President Bush Jr., but most German citizens opposed that war.
As Bush Jr. and Obama shifted the focus of US foreign policy to Asia, the relationship between Germany and the United States has cooled down. Obama once regarded Merkel as his most important partner in the field of foreign policy, but it was during his administration that Merkel’s mobile phone was monitored by US intelligence agencies for many years. The scandal was exposed in 2013 and Merkel was extremely angry. , “It is not allowed to engage in monitoring between friends.”
The world situation is changing. In 2014, the “Crimean Crisis” broke out; in 2016, the British referendum decided to leave the European Union. In the same year, Trump was elected President of the United States. Trump slogans “America First”, bid farewell to multilateralism, and even questioned NATO.
p > Deeply disappointed in the United States, Merkel said in 2017, “The era when we can trust each other is partially over.”
However, it was the serious situation that encouraged Merkel to meet again and participate in the 2017 federal election. After she won, she began her fourth term in office. Warwick believes that Merkel’s acceptance of the challenge again is to strengthen “Germany is more dependent on the multilateral framework than any other country.”
Hoff said that Merkel has shown great ability in uniting Europe and the West and maintaining dialogue between parties to conflicts, although not every time, such as in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. . Her insistence on the Beixi No. 2 oil and gas pipeline is in sharp contrast with the attitude of the United States and Eastern European countries.
At the beginning of 2021, Merkel’s relationship with the United States has improved to a great extent after U.S. President Bibi took office. In July, Biden invited Merkel to visit the White House as the first head of European government during his tenure, praising her political achievements as “historical.”
In mid-August 2021, at the end of Merkel’s term, the result of a major misjudgment by the United States and Germany was clearly shown in front of people. After Western troops withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban took over the entire Afghanistan.
The response of the German government is slow. The parties are arguing whether to accept local employees who have served German institutions. This will become a “stain” on Merkel’s report card.