German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recently visited Ukraine on a two-day visit. Before the trip, Maas announced his intention to visit the zone of demarcation of the fighting forces in the Donbass. Then he changed his plans. Referring to adverse weather conditions, the German minister limited his field of activity to the offices of the Kiev authorities.
In the context of the "Norman format"
Heiko Maas explained his visit by preparing for the summit in the "Norman format." In fact, the agenda of the meeting went far beyond the Norman context. As it became clear after the joint press conference of the German minister and his Ukrainian counterpart, a rather wide range of topics was discussed in Kiev.
It included the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, financial assistance to Kiev from Berlin, and, of course, the establishment of peace in the Donbas. It is noteworthy that, speaking of the financial support of the Kiev authorities by Germany, Maas praised it as “which still needs to be looked for,” and did not say a word about the scandalous claims of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The world learned about these claims after the September 25 publication of the transcripts of Zelensky’s telephone conversation in July with US President Donald Trump. A certain awkwardness arose, putting the head of Ukraine in a somewhat ambiguous position. However, Zelensky was soon found, and already during the many hours of the October press conference, he actually confirmed the claims against Angela Merkel and Emanuel Macron. "No offense was meant. I said what I think. I always do that, ”the Ukrainian president insisted.
Now the German minister was trying to prove to Ukrainians and the world that Germany is the main pillar of Ukraine in solving all its problems, including ensuring territorial integrity and sovereignty. Maas publicly praised Zelensky for “the shifts that have been achieved in resolving the conflict in the Donbass” and also publicly blamed Russia that for establishing a complete ceasefire “it’s now her turn.
The German minister did not deny himself the pleasure of once again demonstrating some verbal significance of Berlin in world politics. According to him, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the transit of Russian gas through the Ukrainian gas transportation system will continue after the 2019 year.
Five European “Needed”
This statement by Heiko Maas is at odds with the practice of negotiations on further gas transit through Ukraine (Germany does not even take part in them). Probably, the Berlin guest wanted to make a strong impression on the politicians in Kiev, and he sinned against the truth. Germany has little to do with it. The gas policy of the European Union is being formed in Brussels, as well as the very nature of relations between the EU countries and Russia.
Three years ago, their main postulates were formulated by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and agreed at a special meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth countries. Mogherini put five conditions on the basis of EU policy in the Russian direction: implementation of the Minsk-2 agreement on Ukraine, strengthening relations with the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Central Asia, reducing dependence on Russia in the energy sector, restoring cooperation with Russia in some selected areas (for example, in Iran or North Korea), support for the development of civil society in Russia and "support for contacts between people and exchange."
Around this five conditions, all the rhetoric of the participants in the foreign policy activities of European countries is now being built. It can be seen from all that Maas in Kiev did not go beyond what was permitted to him and even emphasized that "Ukraine has European support." After such statements by the German minister, Russian political scientists started talking about a possible postponement of the "Norman format" summit date from December 9 to a later time.
Berlin demonstrates political helplessness
Whether it is this or not, they will decide in the Kremlin. Obviously something else. Heiko Maas arrived in Kiev not so much to prepare the declared summit as to show the foreign policy activity and significance of Germany. Berlin has long been trying to present itself to the world as a global, and not a regional, power. It turns out not very.
Take at least the Ukrainian direction. Acting as a guarantor in resolving the intra-Ukrainian crisis, Germany soon slipped into the unconditional support of the Kiev authorities and, in fact, became their accomplice in the protracted conflict. Berlin forgave President Poroshenko all his political tricks. I tried not to notice the victims among the civilian population, the activation of neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine and their lack of control over the authorities, war crimes, etc.
Now Maas in Kiev timidly says that “it is necessary to achieve adoption by the Ukrainian parliament of a law on the special status of Donbass with the preparation of local elections, as well as to solve crimes committed during the conflict.” Meanwhile, all these are yesterday’s tasks set forth in the Minsk agreements more than four years ago. It can be confidently stated: they were not executed by Kiev with the tacit consent of Berlin.
It turns out that Germany did not fulfill the function of an influential power capable of resolving regional conflicts. And I want more. I want to rule the world. Recently, a debate took place in the Bundestag on the role of Germany in the Middle East conflict. They were provoked by the proposal of the Minister of Defense of Germany, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to create a security zone in northern Syria under the control of NATO.
The idea of the German minister was not very carried away by the Europeans, but the Berlin politic fell into exaltation, hoping to strengthen the influence of the Germans in this troubled but important region for the world. This is not the first attempt by Berlin to fully engage in the Middle East processes and convert its economic power into political power.
In the winter of 2007, when the so-called “Middle East Quartet” to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (consisting of representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, the USA and Russia) took a long pause, Germany initiated a ministerial meeting in Berlin. They invited UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU Commissioner for Foreign Policy Javier Solana.
At a meeting in Berlin, Merkel formulated some initiatives urging the parties to renounce the use of violence, recognize the right to exist of the state of Israel and fulfill the previous agreements. However, high-ranking guests did not see anything new in the proposals of the German Chancellor, as they did not see in it the power of a reputable international mediator. The meeting in Berlin did not become a breakthrough and could not even prepare the summit of the Middle East Quartet.
Merkel tried to compensate for her diplomatic failure by a trip to the countries of the Middle East. She took the Minister of Economics and representatives of the German business elite with her to the company. Although the main declared purpose of the voyage was "the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Then the agenda was adjusted to expand "economic cooperation between the EU and Arab countries, including in the energy sector." However, in this matter, special progress was not possible. In the Middle Eastern capitals, the Germans politely listened, but their initiatives were not accepted.
It is curious that the proposal of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer during the debate was supported by all factions of the Bundestag, including the left and the Alternative for Germany. It turns out that a consensus has matured in German politics on the role of Berlin in resolving world affairs. One problem: Europe did not support the united impulse of the Germans, and they alone cannot overcome this.
However, Berlin really wants to get out of regional pants and become on a par with global powers. There are many examples of this. For example, in parallel with the visit of Heiko Maas to Kiev, former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited Moscow. The German-Russian Forum and the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce invited him to a conference at the Baltschug Hotel in Moscow.
They mainly discussed foreign trade relations between the two countries, but the ex-minister could not resist evaluations of global politics. Gabriel said in Moscow that the role of Germany in international affairs should be more active. “Especially now, when Russia and Iran begin to master the arena of global politics, with which the Americans are gradually leaving,” the ex-minister emphasized and added: “It’s good that Germany is showing restraint, but we can’t constantly say that someone is for us will do something. When cannibals dominate the world, we cannot remain vegans. ”
Let us leave without comment the crude ambiguity (the Soviet people remembered the “vegans” from Germany for a long time) that Sigmar Gabriel allowed himself in Moscow. We note the main thing: the Germans' desire to influence the global political agenda does not fit with their regional helplessness. Whatever one may say, the crisis in Ukraine has dragged on, including due to the position of Berlin. Last week in Kiev, Minister Maas confirmed it again ...