Angela Merkel’s star has faded. Media about ex-chancellor’s speech | Analysis of events in political life and society in Germany | DW

It is necessary to make a lot of effort and spend quite a lot of time to find a positive response from the German press to a big public speech by Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel) on the evening of June 7 at Berlin’s Schaubüne theater – the first since her retirement from the post of German chancellor in early December last year.

But one positive comment was nevertheless found – in the regional newspaper Oldenburgische Volkszeitung from the provincial town of Vechta (33 thousand inhabitants) in Lower Saxony: “This exciting and interesting interview lasted an hour and a half. A lesson in democracy was taught. After that, many critics of the policies of the former chancellor with regard to Russia, they should be silenced.” The commenter made a mistake. There are even more critics, and their assessments are even sharper.

Russia’s war against Ukraine crossed out Merkel’s achievements

Thus, the respectable Süddeutsche Zeitung sincerely regrets that the audience at Schaubün did not have the opportunity to ask the ex-chancellor a question from the floor: “If there was, then surely someone would have asked:” Mrs. Merkel, if you saw all the meanness of Vladimir Putin so early, why did they bring the country into such a strong dependence on gas and oil from Russia?

Merkel and Putin in the Kremlin, January 2006

Merkel and Putin in the Kremlin, January 2006

“Of course it was right to stay in dialogue with Putin for as long as possible, the comment goes on to say. “Only the ‘grand coalition’ led by the Chancellor did not understand that, at the latest after the annexation of Crimea, the interlocutor in the Kremlin was becoming more and more a man declaring war on democratic countries instead of maintaining dialogue.”

And if Merkel realized this so early, then why did she take into account energy dependence on the Putin regime, the newspaper asks, why, by reducing defense spending, deprived the Bundeswehr of the ability to defend Germany and its NATO partners? “Nightmare war against Ukraine– states the Süddeutsche Zeitung, – has rapidly overshadowed the previous so positive view of the years of Merkel’s rule.”

Nord Stream 2 is Merkel’s main mistake

The East German newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung writes that “self-criticism would, of course, be appropriate.” Not so much with regard to the position of the former chancellor on the issue of Ukraine’s admission to NATO or Merkel’s strategy in the negotiations in the Normandy format, but precisely on the issue of energy dependence on Russia, for which the commentator also lays a significant part of the responsibility on Angela Merkel: ” Despite objections from her own circle, she stubbornly supported “Nord Stream – 2”. It was a mistake, a mistake over the years that could have been avoided, with serious consequences for years to come.”

Gas pipeline Nord Stream - 2

Merkel supported the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project until the very last moment.

The author of a large publication in the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel also believes that Merkel’s approach to Nord Stream 2 is erroneous. “If she knew that Putin wanted to destroy the EU, then why, to the detriment of the cohesion of the European Union, did she ignore objections of European partners? In Merkel’s statements on this topic, the contradictions are the biggest,” the author of the article believes and recalls that the German Foreign Minister of those years, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, admitted that defending Nord Stream 2 was clearly a mistake .

Putin “saw through”, but did not draw conclusions

The Allgemeine Zeitung calls Angela Merkel’s categorical refusal to take a critical look at her policy towards Russia “stubbornness” and “outrageous self-conceit”. “She has too little understanding and self-reflection,” the newspaper points out. “And this against the backdrop of a situation in which the catastrophic consequences of a policy for which Merkel is decisively responsible are becoming clearer every day.”

Merkel and Putin at the parade in Moscow on May 9, 2010

Merkel assures that she has long understood the essence of Putin. Moscow, May 9, 2010

Badische Neueste Nachrichten considers her policy towards Russia “naive”. Nürnberger Nachrichten, in turn, is ready to believe that Merkel “saw through” Putin and understood from the very beginning that he was an unpredictable autocrat and an enemy of democracy. “But she did not draw the necessary conclusions from this,” the newspaper writes.

Merkel has done Europe a disservice

Merkel’s first public speech in six months was also criticized by the foreign press. The Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes that the conversation on the Schaubühne stage would have been different if it had been asked questions by another journalist – the ex-chancellor who does not worship. And so, according to the newspaper, it turned out to be a “political operetta”: “Merkel confidently did her job, which was not surprising with such an interviewer. And, of course, she did not admit serious mistakes that evening. She successfully avoided this in her position for 16 years and unlikely to do so in retirement.”

Negotiations in Minsk, February 2015

Negotiations in Minsk, February 2015

Although the Polish Rzeczpospolita did not expect from Merkel “a sensational recognition of mistakes in policy towards Russia”, she did not think that Angela Merkel “would prove with such perseverance that she had nothing to reproach herself with, would not apologize and did not see the need to criticize rethink its policy toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia.” The conclusion that, from the point of view of Rzeczpospolita, should be drawn from Merkel’s explanations: “Ukraine should be grateful that, thanks to Minsk agreements she got seven years to prepare to repel Russian aggression.”

And here is what the American Wall Street Journal writes: “The foreign policy legacy has rarely been so quickly and so thoroughly discredited as in the case of the former German chancellor Angela Merkel. For 16 years at the head of the government, she believed that she could moderate great power aspirations Vladimir Putin and thereby left Germany and Europe vulnerable to his energy blackmail… It is hard not to conclude that her failure is the basis of Putin’s calculation that his attempt to take Kyiv this year will meet only limited European resistance… Merkel has turned Europe’s freedom bearish service”.

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