Traffic lights: who is responsible for foreign policy


Status: 12/14/2022 8:48 AM

After the government’s statement in the Bundestag, Chancellor Scholz travels to the EU summit. Foreign policy is the boss’s business. However, he does not always stay on course with the head of the foreign office. And then a third party joins.

Kai Küstner, ARD Capital Studio

As much as Olaf Scholz and Annalena Baerbock try to create the impression of a traffic-light foreign policy from one source, all too often lately this image has been shattered. This became clearly visible and audible in dealings with China. When Chancellor Scholz tried to force the Chinese state-owned company Cosco to invest in the port of Hamburg against the will of six cabinet members, Baerbock made no secret of his rejection due to growing dependence: “We made a mistake. What the Federal Republic of Germany has done in recent years, Russia can repeat, we must prevent it,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs ARD. clear words.

Advice from the Chancellor of Uzbekistan

And just a few days later, to make sure the message really got through to the chancellery, Baerbock gave Scholz some more cautionary advice before she left for China: She reminded the chancellor of the planned new China strategy and that Beijing was no longer just a partner, but “that China also is a competitor and increasingly a systemic competitor”. To say the least, it was an unusual process to give the chancellor advice on how to behave when he went on a business trip to distant Uzbekistan. But it made sense, as the Green politician made it clear that the timing of the trip – shortly after President Xi was given new powers – was unfortunate for her.

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Scholz apologized a few weeks later: without this trip, the surprisingly clear condemnation of Russia at the G20 summit in Bali would not have been possible. For example, his visit to China and “the clear words that the Chinese president shared with me on this issue” helped.

Not just stylistic differences

In recent months, it has become clear several times how the SPD chancellor and the green foreign minister differ not only in style, but also on fundamental issues: until a few weeks before the start of the Russian war of aggression, Scholz was still defending the Russian gas pipeline. Nord Stream 2 is a “private sector project” and the Greens have called the line a “strategic mistake” for years.

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