While Germany successfully managed its dual presidency of the European Union and G8 in 2007, a year later the country stands accused of making weak and contradictory commitments on many issues, particularly foreign and social policies, write Claire Demesmay and Hans Stark in a March paper for the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).
Germany was confronted with challenges of great magnitude in 2008, such as the collapse of stock values and the slowdown in the economy, but also geopolitical wars between Georgia and Russia and Israel and Palestine, recall the analysts.
Thus, while the Federal Republic surprised many observers with its strong economic performance in 2007, German experts at the beginning of 2009 are talking about unprecedented recession and rising unemployment, according to Demesmay and Stark.
Moreover, Germany stands accused of making weak commitments in Afghanistan, demonising the “clean” energy that is nuclear power, curbing enthusiasm for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and blocking NATO enlargement.
The country has also been criticised for lacking enthusiasm for emergency measures taken by the duo of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to save the European economy.
The paper refers to the debate about social justice, the impact of labour-market reform and the German export model. The authors also criticise the Federal Government’s foreign policy guidelines, especially in the Middle East.
Their analysis covers three major topics at the heart of public debate in 2008: cultural diversity and integration, the place of the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion) in the country’s collective conscience, and the fight against global warming.