Foreign affairs ecologist Annalena Baerbock

A social democrat in the chancellery and an environmentalist in foreign affairs: after the tandem Gerhard Schröder-Joschka Fischer (1998-2005), such a team is preparing, for the second time, to take the reins of German diplomacy. And, except surprise, it is Annalena Baerbock, the former Greens candidate for the chancellery, who should inherit foreign affairs in the government of Olaf Scholz, whose entry into office is scheduled for the week of December 6.

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If her appointment is confirmed, Annalena Baerbock will be the first woman to hold such a post in Germany. At only 40, she will also be its youngest holder. A real challenge for her, who has never been a minister. But a calculated risk: since her election as President of the Greens in January 2018, she has specialized in foreign and defense policy issues. Themes on which she spoke more often than her “binomial” at the head of the party, Robert Habeck, to whom should return a large ministry of the economy, energy and climate.

Armed drones

To read the “coalition contract” unveiled Wednesday, November 24, Germany’s role on the international scene should not however change in a decisive way with the departure of Angela Merkel. “As a pole of stability, Germany must continue to play a leading role in Europe”, can we read in the document, which at the same time affirms Berlin’s attachment to the transatlantic relationship. On this point, if the objective set by NATO for its members to devote 2% of their GDP to their military spending is not explicitly mentioned, another percentage is however given: 3% of the budget for foreign policy , security and development. This allows the SPD and the Greens – reluctant on the 2% – not to back down, without worrying Washington. Another point that will reassure the allies of Germany: the acceptance – under conditions – of armed drones to equip the Bundeswehr. A point on which the SPD had nevertheless braked four irons in recent years.

Regarding relations with China, a country described as “Systemic rival”, the tone is, not surprisingly, firmer than in the past. It is the same with Russia, as, more broadly, with all the countries which do not respect the fundamental rules of the rule of law. From this point of view, the moral dimension of German foreign policy is emphasized more than in the “coalition contracts” of previous legislatures.

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However, such a document is sometimes just as revealing by its silences as by the intentions it displays. This is how we will look in vain for any allusion to Nord Stream 2, this controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, whose German network agency has just temporarily suspended approval, but which remains an apple of discord between the SPD, favorable to the project, and the Greens, who oppose it from the beginning.

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Foreign affairs ecologist Annalena Baerbock