Saturday 28 May 2022 | 18:31 | SYDNEY
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The half-hour that fundamentally split Germany from Russia

If you want to see how Vladimir Putin’s aggression is reshaping the European mindset then Germany offers the best view. It’s remarkable how far strategic thinking has shifted in Berlin in just two weeks. As recently as 15 February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Moscow pursuing dialogue

Can the new German foreign minister make a difference?

It is less than two months since Angela Merkel stood down as chancellor of Germany, and a “traffic light” coalition government comprising the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats was installed in Berlin. We are still getting to know the faces in the new administration. One of them,

Merkel mark II?

Should the world expect four more years of Angela Merkel, “only with less hair”, as the leading broadsheet, Süeddeutsche Zeitung, ungenerously predicted of Germany’s shiny domed new chancellor, Olaf Scholz? Scholz’s oratory skills are certainly up there with Merkel’s. When asked if his

The revenge of the Scholzomat

“Today is essentially Christmas and a birthday in one for you, and yet you seem about as euphoric as an English butler at teatime,” remarked an astonished television interviewer to Olaf Scholz on the evening of his election as mayor of Hamburg in 2011. It was a characteristic performance by the

Germany and Europe: “Ampel” time for reform

It’s coalition time in Germany. At the 26 September election, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), led by the current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, emerged as the largest party, with 25.7 per cent of the vote. Everything now points to a Scholz-led government, in combination with the liberal

Deciding Germany’s next direction in the world

With Germany’s federal elections now complete, Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz is emerging as most likely to take over from Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Preliminary results show his party gained 25.7 percent of votes, beating Armin Laschet’s Christian Democrats by just 1.6 percent, meaning

Dankeschön Frau Merkel

Angela Merkel had already been Chancellor for about six months when I commenced as Australian Ambassador to Germany in April 2006. Her tenure as Germany’s head of government has seen four further Australian heads of mission take up residence in Berlin, and the Australian prime ministership change

Europe and the South China Sea 

In the 16th century the Portuguese were the first Europeans to navigate the South China Sea and lay eyes upon the thousands of islands and reefs that lay in these waters. Long years have passed since the days in which European navies played a major role in the seas of Asia. However, in recent years

Germany’s federal election: choose any colour you like

Pizza, kiwi, traffic light, Jamaica, Kenya or Germany? This curious spectrum of possibilities currently tantalises and torments German minds. Based on the trademark colours of the country’s mainstay political parties, it refers to the bewildering constellation of potential coalitions on offer

Merkel and beyond

She was wading through debris left by catastrophic floods in the west of Germany. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel had, last week, come to assess the damage and promise help to survivors. So, too, had all three candidates in the race to succeed Germany’s long-serving leader after the federal

Believing Biden

At the conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s one-week visit across the continent and to the United Kingdom, Europeans appear to believe in the need to push back against the authoritarian China of Xi Jinping – a faith evident despite their mutual economic interests with Beijing along with a fear

Russia vs the EU

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell visited Moscow this month intending to lodge a strong protest against the treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny and his supporters in Russia. Not surprisingly, this was forcefully rebutted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei

Germany’s ordinary new world

In extraordinary times, ordinariness can be a virtue. That, in any case, is the hope of Armin Laschet, who was elected as the new leader of Germany’s largest party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), on 22 January. A moderate Catholic from Aachen, Germany’s westernmost city, Laschet

The outlines of a European policy on the Indo-Pacific

The Netherlands recently published its first official strategy paper for the Indo-Pacific, just ten weeks after Germany had brought out its own. The two countries are now part of a club of three in Europe, after France led the way in 2018. In the diplomatic world, this feels like lightning speed

A Thuringian eruption in Germany

Few know it, but Erfurt is one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. Packed with meandering narrow streets lined by half-timbered houses and overlooked by a soaring gothic cathedral, the Thuringian capital is a visual pearl tucked away in the country’s geographic core. But if Erfurt is a

Favourites of 2019: Babylon Berlin

As 2019 winds up, Lowy Institute staff and Interpreter contributors offer their favourite books, articles, films, or TV programs this year. There are perks to being unfashionably behind the cultural curve. By letting new shows, books and tech percolate in the court of public opinion for a few

The souring mood towards Beijing from Berlin

Until recently, Germany was one of the few major Western countries that China had consistently amicable relations with in an increasingly hostile international environment for Beijing’s export-oriented industries and foreign investments. Germany, China’s fourth-largest trade partner, did not

The Merkel legacy – a study in shades

In announcing this week that she would recontest neither the leadership of her Christian Democratic Union in December nor the German Chancellorship at elections scheduled for 2021, Angela Merkel was being her characteristic self. Conceding to political reality without acting impulsively, her plan

Europe: Merkel, May, and Moscovici

Underlining the continuing chaos in Europe, it has not been a good week for Germany, the UK, or Italy. The end of the tunnel looks far away, and unrelentingly dark. In Germany, the extraordinary result in this month’s state election in Bavaria has shaken an already weakened Chancellor

Germany: A tale of two conservatisms

It was a political scandal that cooler heads could so easily have resolved: Hans-Georg Maaßen, President of Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, publicly expressed ‘scepticism’ that footage showing migrants being chased by right-wing demonstrators through the streets of

Tail wagging the dog: Seehofer in Germany

Horst Seehofer loves to play the tough guy. Up to a point, anyway, and never jeopardising his position at the pinnacle of political power in Germany. The divisive issue of immigration allows smaller parties of the extreme right to jerk around their bigger coalition partners. Seehofer,