Central Europe

  • US and NATO Allies Grapple with Countering Russia’s Cyber Offensive

    NATO’s long-standing tactical advantage on the battlefield could be at risk as cyber adversaries probe for weak points in the U.S.-led security pact’s networks, a top alliance official said.
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  • AfD’s Rise Puts Xenophobia Front and Center in Germany

    The rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is unwelcome news for Germany’s minorities, particularly its four-million-plus Muslim community.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election to a fourth term in office on September 24 was marred by the fact that the AfD made history by becoming the first nationalist political party to win seats in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, since World War II. 

    Germany, along with France, is home to the largest number of Muslims in Europe. This community is relatively well integrated in society, despite claims from the far-right that Islam is an obstacle to integration.

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  • Merkel’s Next Challenge: Defeating Putin in Central Eastern Europe

    Now that the German elections are over and the victorious Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing for coalition talks with potential partners, two important questions arise: how will the political changes in Germany affect German-Russian relations, which have become embittered in the last few years? And what impact could the election have on Germany’s influence in Central Eastern Europe, its traditional stronghold within the EU, when plans of a more integrated core-Europe are formulating?

    While the picture is far from clear, one can make some cautious predictions.

    The tradition of Ostpolitik—Germany’s political and economic partnership with Russia—is still strong within the German political and economic mainstream; even the annexation of Crimea and some aggressive efforts by Russia to interfere in the German political landscape could not overwrite this.

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  • Merkel’s Re-Election Seen as Good News for Transatlantic Ties

    Germany’s Ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, cites ‘stability’

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election to a fourth term on September 24 is good news for the United States, which can continue to rely on Germany to be a “great transatlantic partner,” Germany’s Ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, said in an interview.

    “It is good news in terms of continuity, reliability of our country, of its role in Europe, of its role in the world,” Wittig said.

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  • TRADE IN ACTION September 28, 2017

    This week saw the reelection of Angela Merkel as German Chancellor, with the introduction of the right wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) to the Bundestag as the most radical change. 

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  • An Economic Roadmap for Germany

    On September 24, Germany held an election for its federal parliament, the Bundestag, and as many forecasters had predicted, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) emerged as the strongest party.  For the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, six political groups consisting of seven parties sit in the Bundestag. With new parties entering the Bundestag, a more fragmented parliament and proportional changes in seat distribution will alter political decision-making for the coming legislative period.

    It is not yet clear what the government will look like. Martin Schulz, chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD), rejected a continuation of the coalition partnership with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU. Conversely, the CDU does not completely exclude continuing the “grand coalition” with the SPD. Over the next few weeks, Merkel’s conservative party will also hold coalition negotiations with the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party. Economic and business issues figure prominently amongst the important topics that the politicians and experts of the parties will discuss.

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  • (Too) Much Ado About Germany’s Far-Right?

    European parliamentarian Elmar Brok says post-election Germany is no “problem case”

    Elmar Brok is the longest-serving lawmaker in the European Parliament (EP), a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who’s known her personally for nearly three decades. Brok, who spoke out forcefully against the extreme right during the recent election campaign, has no patience for handwringing over the results of the September 24 election.

    Merkel was re-elected to a fourth term, but it was also the first time that a far-right political party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), won seats in parliament since World War II.

    “Eighty-seven percent of Germans voted ‘not nationalist,’” he pointed out, referring to the other major parties, the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens. “In what [other] country of the world would you get such a result?”

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  • Germany’s ‘Lame Duck’ Chancellor

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was re-elected on September 24, will be a “lame duck” in her fourth, and likely final, term in office, according to Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Atlantic Council board director.

    “There are those in her party and sister party that will want to start having a discussion about ‘after Merkel,’ and that number will go [up] as of today,” Ischinger said in an Atlantic Council press and members phone briefing on September 25. However, he added, “she shouldn’t be counted out. She’s been very good.”

    Ischinger joined Annette Heuser, chief executive officer of the Professor Otto Beisheim Foundation and Atlantic Council board director, and Stefan Kornelius, foreign policy editor at Süddeutsche Zeitung, to discuss the implications of Merkel’s re-election, not only for Germany, but also for its relationships with international partners such as the United States. Atlantic Council President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Kempe moderated the conversation.

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  • A High-Ambition Coalition? What Germany’s Elections Could Mean for Climate

    In the German elections on September 24, Germany’s Christian Democrat Union (CDU) emerged once again as the most popular party, securing a fourth term for Chancellor Angela Merkel. While the question of who will lead Germany was answered, the question of which parties will govern the country—and in what coalition—is far from settled. As coalition negotiations between the parties unfold against the backdrop of competing foreign and domestic agendas, the future of German energy and climate policy hangs in the balance.

    Germany’s approach to clean energy on the world stage, namely its support for the Paris Climate Agreement and promotion of the clean energy transition as a foreign policy priority, is unlikely to change in any meaningful way. With strong domestic support for clean energy policy, there is also little doubt that the German energy transition, or Energiewende, will continue.

    Rather, the question is one of ambition.

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  • European Ambassadors Defend Iran Nuclear Deal

    European ambassadors to the United States on September 25 defended the nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is working, while warning that reopening negotiations would be a nonstarter and walking away from the deal would have serious consequences.

    This joint defense comes as US President Donald J. Trump, who has to certify to the US Congress by October 15 that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, has reiterated his displeasure with the deal.

    Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Wittig, said the onus is on those who seek to renegotiate the deal to prove that first, renegotiation is possible, and second, it will deliver better results. “We don’t think it will be possible to renegotiate it and we believe there is no practical, peaceful alternative to this deal,” Wittig said.

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