Germany now has a large coalition government combining the CDU-CSU Christian Democrats and SPD Social Democrats together. Both parties have come to terms with each other in relation to a common economic program – the main concern of the Germans was mass unemployment and questioning the bases of their own social model filled with unease. However, while the country’s financial direction is likely to be rather accurately forecast for the next few years, its foreign policy has become much harder to predict. Angela Merkel has grown increasingly atlantist and pro-israeli in the last few years but the Foreign Ministry was handed to Frank-Walter Steinmeier who is close to Gerhard Schröder. Under such circumstances, observers can only make estimates about the future of German diplomacy – estimates that would clearly reflect their wishes and not a future largely dependent on the balance of forces within the coalition and the parties composing it.

In Le Figaro, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy openly wants France and Germany to play a major role again in the construction of Europe. By stating that since the signature of the Elysee agreements between Charles De Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer 40 years ago the successive political shifts have had little influence on the Paris-Berlin rapprochement, he quickly rejected any re-orientation risk on the side of German diplomacy and appealed for a new European dynamic. Douste-Blazy did not define the political form or trend that must be defended.
Former US National Security adviser Henry Kissinger predicted in the Washington Post a rapprochement between Berlin and Washington. In his opinion, Gerhard Schröder’s stepping down and the fact that the Bush administration acknowledges the imperfections of unilateralism would make the rapprochement prospectively interesting. However, Kissinger was sensible when he said: ‘we should not think that the bonds between the US and Germany can be compared to those of the past. Times have changed. Germany needs the US no longer to face the USSR, and the new generation in power does not feel indebted to Washington any more. Although we should not expect strong opposition to the Bush administration from Angela Merkel, neither should we expect her to renounce Germany’s links with France and Russia in the interests of her friendship with the US.
In Alrai, Jordanian journalist and writer Mofid Nahla began to miss the presence of Gerhard Schröder. Although the Social Democrat Chancellor opposed the invasion of Iraq and officially visited several Arab countries, his predecessor Helmut Kohl didn’t and Germany could come back to that form of foreign policy. Nahla also deplored the immigration policy restrictions that the new chancellor seems to support.

It should be noted that none of the above observers ever approached the subject of Turkey’s integration into the EU – a clashing point between Social Democrats and Christian Democrats during the electoral campaign.

On the occasion of Angela Merkel’s visit to London, as part of her tour of Europe, The Guardian offered its columns to the Die Zeit editor-in-chief Michael Naumann, who was once secretary of state for Culture during Gerhard Schröder’s first term of office. Naumann provides us with an analysis of what we should hope from Germany in terms of financial policy but he finds it really hard to make any predictions about German foreign policy. Nevertheless, he brought out an issue that appears not to have been fully taken into account by other analysts: Angela Merkel is from Eastern Germany; therefore, her political culture certainly differs from that of her predecessors. Is it enough to make a difference?

The German press gives no answer to this question either and the analysts are once again pleased to formulate only assumptions.
According to political scientist and former Schröder government advisor on Islam, Claus Leggewie, Angela Merkel’s growing atlantist proneness will be more of a change in oratory and not in facts. He said in Deutsche Welle that Merkel will try to come closer to the Eastern countries but won’t be able to deprecate an association with Russia – an essential element for Germany, even when the new chancellor is less favorable to Putin than her predecessor was. Berlin will be much more aggressive toward China as far as the topic of human rights is concerned but we should not forget that Beijing has made large-scale investments in Germany. Finally, it will be impossible for Germany to send troops to join the US-UK troops in Iraq, or eventually in Iran without causing a devastating crisis in its large government coalition or a weakening of Merkel’s own party. So, Leggewie thinks that the major trends of German diplomacy should not change.
The above analysis seems to be the fruit of common sense, which does not exclude some CDU atlantist members from dreaming of an about-turn in German diplomacy. Thus, the head of government of the Saar, Peter Müller (from the CDU), advised Angela Merkel in the Welt Am Sonntag to become a moderating agent in the Euro-Atlantic clashes when playing the mediator’s role between London and Paris, but above all between Europeans and Americans in the event of a future attack on Iran. Does this mean that Leggewie foresees Germany’s participation in a military action if it takes place? He wants Berlin to step away from France and Russia and get closer to the US and above all to Poland. To conclude, he asks that the foreign policy be kept out of the hands of the SPD and that the chancellor leave her stamp on it.
Will the SPD accept that?