Christian Lindner, leader of the Germany Free Democratic Party (FDP) called for a policy of ‘double strategy’ toward Russia which would include both the preservation of dialogue and clearly-defined policy.
“Russia will have its place in the ‘Europa’ house, if it abides to a set order,” Lindner said at the federal rally in Berlin on Saturday.
Lindner suggested that Russia either be invited back into the G8 or be otherwise included in the association by creating a G7+1 format, and asked for the restoration of regular EU-Russia summits. He also remarked that anti-Russia sanctions should not be removed without conditions.
“No sane person has a serious wish to engage in confrontation with Russia,” Lindner observed.
According to Spiegel review, newly appointed German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has become an embarrassment for Germany by suddenly taking a tough anti-Russia stance.
Many government insiders suggest that the sudden turn by Maas is due to a desire on his part to seek favor with the sector of German politics that includes Angela Merkel, much of the CDU, the Greens and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
This sector of German politics poses a tougher stance toward Russia, and practices criticism and clear limits, according to Spiegel. Lindner and Maas both belong to this “tough” sector.
Opposition parties include “many Social Democrats, such as Steinmeier and Gabriel, and a large part of Merkel’s Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), particularly party leader Horst Seehofer. Armin Laschet, the CDU governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, and FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Kubicki are likewise part of this group,” according to Spiegel. This sector prefers dialogue, and calls for sanctions against Russia to be dismantled, and the readmission of Russia to the G8.
Spiegel notes that there are also far-left and the far-right (Left-Party and AfD), both of whom are “completely uncritical if not admiring of Russia and its authoritarian model.”
These definitions provide some insight into why a tough stance on Russia by Maas is not convenient for the current German political establishment. According to Spiegel, Maas took his anti-Russia stance out of personal political ambitions — to distance himself from his predecessors. His gamble has turned out poorly, as he has managed only to irritate everyone — even those who supported his appointment to the Foreign Ministry.
“Even in the Chancellery there has been a fair degree of bewilderment about the new minister, to the point that Merkel and her people approached leading Social Democrats to ask what exactly their foreign minister was up to,” Spiegel pointed out.
In context for Lindner’s latest statement, Spiegel’s description of Germany’s current political climate and Lindner’s own call for a reinstatement of the G8 group could be a significant change. Not necessarily a landslide in German politics, but a welcome respite from lockstep political maneuvering.