Confusion in Berlin Complicates Franco-German Relations

Confusion in Berlin Complicates Franco-German Relations
Confusion in Berlin Complicates Franco-German Relations

To analyse. The 60e anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, celebrated on Sunday January 22 in Paris, not only made it possible to measure the difficulties that France and Germany have in providing common and concrete responses to the major challenges of the moment. He also brought to light a fact which partly explains why Paris and Berlin have such difficulty in tuning their violins: the great confusion which reigns within the coalition of Olaf Scholz, silent chancellor at the head of a talkative majority , head of a composite government, whose ministers express their own political line more willingly than they seek to speak with a single voice.

The debate over deliveries of Leopard tanks to Ukraine is a perfect illustration of this. Sunday, at the Elysee Palace, during the joint press conference he held with Emmanuel Macron after the Franco-German Council of Ministers, Olaf Scholz kicked into touch when a journalist asked him if he was ready to give the green light to sending these German-made battle tanks insistently demanded by kyiv. Invited a little later on LCI, its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, was much more precise, assuring that Germany would not object to countries possessing Leopards, in particular Poland, being able to provide them to Ukraine if they wish. Questioned in the evening by the German channel ARD, his defense colleague, Boris Pistorius, was much more cautious, saying that a decision concerning the sending of tanks to the Ukrainian front would come ” on time “ and she would be taken “at the Chancellery”.

Failing to clarify Berlin’s position, these three interventions have on the contrary underlined how lively the debate is, within the German government, on the question of military support for Ukraine. In saying that she was in favor of countries supplying Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Annalena Baerbock only repeated what her colleague in charge of the economy, Robert Habeck, had said three days earlier: “Germany does not have to block other countries if they want to help Ukraine, regardless of what decisions Germany takes for itself. »

apples of discord

Former co-presidents of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck are here in perfect coherence with the line of their party which, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, pleads for a voluntarist policy in terms of arms deliveries. In this field, they can count on the support of the Liberals (FDP), the third component of the “traffic light coalition » of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz (SPD). They too regularly express their impatience with the procrastination of the Chancellery and the Ministry of Defence, both led by the SPD, a party whose pacifist culture and long-displayed benevolence towards Moscow explain the current caution about the arms deliveries.

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