The pipeline project Nord Stream 2 jeopardizes key objectives of Germany’s foreign policy in the name of economic interests. Last week’s clash between the German minister of foreign affairs and the US Senate took this toxic impact to a whole new level.
After a long period of doom and gloom it seems that this is a time to be optimistic about the future of the European project. Recent months saw right-wing populist candidates lose in France, the Netherlands, and Austria. Italy’s Five Star Movement lost in local elections that were seen as an early indicator of support ahead of the national vote next year. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom seems preoccupied with itself, its lack of strategy and the constant delays are giving the European Union a significant advantage in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
The general election on June 8, 2017 proved devastating for the Conservative government of British Prime Minister Theresa May. After losing 12 Parliamentary seats her party is now short of an absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament and forced to seek a coalition to continue to govern effectively. Instead of achieving a stronger mandate for the upcoming Brexit negotiations with the European Union, May considerably weakened her stance even at home. The loss took many observers by surprise, its magnitude surpassing even the boldest of predictions.
With the United States’ commitment to European security fading and Britain leaving the EU, the cohesion of NATO is weakened, but for Germany and Merkel there is no alternative to the Western alliance.
On the day after his inauguration, new French President Emmanuel Macron visited Berlin on May 15. Right away he was drawn into the upcoming election in Germany when Social democratic Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel picked him up at the airport, his ministry posting photos of the two before Macron even met Gabriel’s Conservative boss. Macron, who ran on a platform of reviving Europe and deepening integration, came to Berlin to negotiate the future of Europe with the German chancellor.
Things have not been going well recently for Germany’s right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD). According to recent weekly Forsa polls published during the last three weeks the percentage of those willing to give AfD their vote dropped to 8%, their lowest share since summer 2016.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, former Foreign Minister and member of the German Social Democratic Party, assumed office as President of the Federal Republic almost three weeks ago. On Monday, he delivered his symbolic first speech abroad in the European Parliament. Presenting a plea for a united Europe, he also addressed Viktor Orbán’s current efforts to shut down the Central European University in Budapest: “Europe (…) must not be silent, when civil society, even academia - as now at Central European University, Budapest - are deprived of the air to breathe”.
Jarosław Kaczyński already twice campaigned for Angela Merkel in the German press, claiming that a fourth term for the current chancellor would be the most beneficial result for Poland. Kaczyński, like many Polish commentators, is most concerned about the alleged Russophilia of German Social democrats and praises Merkel’s steadfastness regarding the sanctions against Russia. But there are more reasons for Poles to prefer Merkel – Poland plays an important role in the conception of the European Union held up by Germany’s Christian democrats.
Kazakhs believe that putting forward the issues of future energy at the 5th Astana Economic Forum and then at the EXPO 2017, will help attract new technologies and serious investments that would diminish the country’s dependence on export of traditional energy sources.
Among democratic states, parliamentary systems differ greatly and there are many sophisticated methods, as well as reasons to hold a debate. However, what happened in the Senate of Australia on Thursday 18th March 2016 goes beyond measure of extraordinary. The senators assembled to discuss the Senate voting reforms and left the house 28 hours later on Friday 19th March. As Reuters reports “lawmakers, at least one dressed in pyjamas, employed delaying tactics aimed at breaking their opponents' will”.