NAKO Co-Chair Volodymyr Ohryzko for Ukraine’s Information Agency UNIAN
Everything once comes to an end. And now we’re seeing the start of the final stage of Angela Merkel’s cadence. In German politics, she will certainly leave a very noticeable trace. Frau Merkel is as a leader perhaps of the same magnitude as Adenauer or Kohl. Angela Merkel is a really prominent politician and it’s a shame that she decided to complete her political career.
However, on the other hand, changes, rotations, new ideas and approaches are needed. Merkel’s decision deserves respect: she realizes that the time has come for new ideas and approaches, so she acted in a truly European way. There are issues that need to be addressed, but it’s other politicians who will have to deal with them.
For Ukraine, Angela Merkel is an especially important political figure. Due to her efforts, some extremely complicated developments were successfully stopped right in the beginning of Russian aggression. At the same time, I would in no way like to diminish the role of our Armed Forces – apparently, they became the most important tool that helped to some extent tune down Russian aggression. But Frau Merkel’s diplomatic pressure on Putin, of course, also played its positive role.
What will happen after Angela Merkel is replaced? For some reason, it seems to me that in this case, no real shifts should be expected in the German position. However, the latest tendencies in German politics are not pro-European. This will be somewhat similar to what happened in the United States: when Donald Trump came to power, everyone thought that it was the end of the world, but in fact it was nothing like that. The same is true here. I think that in Germany, politicians will come to power, for whom European values and international law remain important. Therefore, I do not anticipate any fundamental changes in German policies.
How will this affect the work of the Normandy Four? Putin can be put in place by certain convictions, a stance position, and specific sanctioning measures that he won’t be able to survive. If we proceed from this position, nothing changes in the equation. If we only hope for a certain leader’s role then, of course, there’s no such political figure yet who could be equal to Merkel. Therefore, I think, we should focus on positions, not personalities. If Germany’s position remains strong and even strengthens, while sanctions become unbearable for Russia, this will mean that it is possible to achieve even greater results, even without Frau Merkel at the negotiation table.
Will Merkel’s withdrawal be good news for Russia? I don’t believe everything depends on her. Again, Trump’s initial position toward Russia was later corrected by the U.S. establishment. Similarly, whoever replaces Frau Merkel, they will still operate within the framework of a common European policy and within positions that have long been defined and are unlikely to be changing. How will this affect German-Russian joint projects, in particular, Nord Stream 2? One should proceed from the fact that Merkel is not leaving office tomorrow – this will happen only in three years. During this period, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is scheduled to be completed. If the Americans really play a tough game and halt the project by imposing sanctions against Europe’s participating companies, this will be a completely different situation … So I would not link Merkel’s step-down and the implementation of German-Russian joint projects, in particular, the Nord Stream 2 pipe.
Volodymyr Ohryzko is a Ukrainian diplomat, ex-minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine