Ukraine and Germany: would this friendship grow into serious relations? (Part 2)

Author : Serhiy Solodkyi Aliona Hetmanchuk

Source : 112 Ukraine

Some German politicians still believe in restoring business with Russia
10:16, 12 February 2016

Read the original text at Evropeiska pravda (part 2).

Related: Ukraine and Germany: would this friendship grow into serious relations? (Part 1)

Stability above all

The interests of Germany and Ukraine in this regard are the same when it comes to restoration of stability, suspension of aggression.


However, the mechanisms of vision is excellent.

After Russian aggression in early 2014 the new Ukrainian leaders have put a special emphasis on attracting Western partners to stop Putin.

At first glance, it seemed the most expected was the reaction of the U.S., France, or the UK, the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. Speaking about Germany, none of the documents obliges it to support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine or to mediate relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Berlin was right above international law and post-Helsinki security order in Europe, rather than Ukraine.

Even in Ukraine, not everybody understands and properly appreciates the fact that Germany's efforts to curb Russia are forced, but necessary steps of the government.

Over the past twenty years in Germany has reconsidered country's participation in international crises: in 1994, Germany's involvement in the resolution of international crises was supported by 62% of its citizens, while 37% were against, in 2014 the situation was reversed - 60% "against" and 37 % "for".

However, it is possible that if the Ukrainian progress in the settlement of this story can play a significant role for Merkel and her team during the election campaign 2017. The sustainable solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine could be the first major foreign policy victory for Germany outside the EU.

Despite the fairly intense contacts of Ukrainian and German authorities in the past two years, we cannot tell about unconditional trust in the relationship. While supporting Ukraine Germany feels kind of uncomfortable because of disputes with Russia.

Some German politicians still believe in the return with Russia to usual business.

In Ukraine, by contrast, sounded some suspicion that Germany was looking for a solution to the conflict behind Ukraine and under the direct or indirect influence of Moscow.

Currently confidence in the official Ukrainian-German relations is passing a serious test. Kyiv has serious concerns that Germany would not take into account the security factor (in particular, the withdrawal of weapons), focusing primarily on political settlement. Berlin supposes that these Kyiv’s tactics of delay time is dangerous in regard to the implementation of Ukrainian obligations.

Nevertheless, Merkel's speech to the Bundestag 15 October 2015 stressed that "the cornerstone" of the  Minsk agreements is "full withdrawal of all troops and mercenaries who illegally stay in Ukraine, and Ukraine’s complete control over its borders".

In general, Germany is ready to listen to the arguments of the Ukrainian side, if they are without serious grounds. However, it needs to articulate them at all levels.

One of the defects of Ukrainian policy towards Germany is president’s actual usurpation of the direction.

Alliance opinion leaders must voice and explaine the Ukrainian position.

Germany as a guarantor of European unity

Ukraine has to understand that the lack of support from Germany would not allow the decision to maintain sanctions against Russia for two years.

Chancellor Merkel personally played a major role in ensuring the unity on four critical areas for Ukraine: in Germany itself, particularly at the level of the ruling coalition; at the level of the European Union; transatlantic unity; and, to some extent, at the level of president, prime minister in Ukraine.

However, there is no guarantee that Germany will continue its leadership function.

First, the impact of Berlin for a particular EU country requires greater efforts.

Secondly, Germany under the weight of internal problems itself can change priorities.

The real test of the unity of the EU may be on the extension of sanctions against Russia in 2016. At the time, can become more confident voices of supporters of the restoration of cooperation with Russia.

By all indications, Berlin still has situational support. The temptation to return to a policy of "Russia first" is still quite strong in Germany.

The German leadership in the EU is important not only in terms of anti-Russian sanctions. Among other issues are implementation of the EU-Ukraine visa-free regime. In terms of refugee crisis the idea of ​​opening the border for Ukrainians can be extremely unpopular.

Under such conditions, the strong position of Germany is critical, but it is important that Berlin itself became a victim of anti-migrant public sentiment. Against this background, talking about the unity of the EU on visa issues will be extremely difficult.

Germany's ability to affect the unity of the EU depends on inner strength, stability Germany itself. For Ukraine it is important to prepare a "Plan B" that go beyond Ukrainian-German cooperation.

EU’s bets solely on Angela Merkel would be extremely ill-advised - no matter how strong is her position today.

One risk is that Ukraine may be difficult to reach agreement with those Member States that have formed the position of Russian aggression under duress of Germany (and America) and not as a result of dialogue with the Ukrainians.

Related: Germany is ready to allocate money for Donbas restoration

Related: A case against German politician for visiting Donbas

Related: Ukraine will be priority during German chair in OSCE – Erler

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