Friday, April 23, 2010

Germany in Need of a Dream

Has Germany abandoned Europe? Do Angela Merkel’s tough conditions for aid to Greece mean that Germany is no longer the motor of European integration? Has Frau Merkel in fact morphed from the Miss Europa of 2007 to the Fräulein Germania of 2010, as Germany’s own former foreign minister Joschka Fischer has suggested?

As a former American ambassador who has lived and worked the better part of four decades around Germany, my Blackberry often glows red hot with messages from persons asking these questions. My response is always the same: Germany has changed very little, but Europe and the world have changed a lot. Therein lies the dilemma.

Germany has worked hard to dig its way out of the disaster of 1945, but trauma remains a defining issue for German society. Sixty five years later, Germany is still focused on the three essentials of its recovery: stability, respectability and peace. Keep this triangle in mind and lots of things quickly come into focus.

From the first days of the Federal Republic, Germany’s leaders emphasized the importance of defining interests solely within a common European and Atlantic vocation. But they also understood that renouncing national ambitions did not remove the responsibility to pursue specific German goals through the common institutions.

Many important postwar accomplishments were conceived and pushed by Germany, sometimes over the opposition of others — including the United States. Ostpolitik was controversial for years, as was NATO enlargement. Germany pushed them with determination.

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Source graphic: Die Fahnen und Flaggen finden Sie bei

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