In recent months, the Office of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany has been registering more and more appeals from the leaders of large German concerns. The captains of German business are unhappy with the official line of Berlin. Anti-Russian sanctions, which Germany as a member of the EU is forced to follow, are not in their interests.
The vagueness of public assessments expressed by Angela Merkel, says that she does not feel his position is firm. Thus, in mid-October, speaking in the Bundestag, A. Merkel said that “sanctions against Russia, although they are an important mechanism of pressure, are not an end in themselves.” A few days later, in a conversation with colleagues, she admitted that in the medium term we can expect to establish “normal relations with Moscow”. However, after a while she expressed herself in the sense that the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk strengthened her in the intention to preserve the regime of sanctions against Russia. “We have to leave everything as it is,” announced A. Merkel.
During the G20 Summit, speaking at the Lawy Institute for International Politics in Sydney, the Federal Chancellor stated that "the Ukrainian crisis goes beyond the framework of a regional conflict." (By the way, what does this mean? After all, “beyond the scope of a regional conflict” is a world conflict). According to Merkel, the West will not abandon attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Russia, but this will not prevent it from introducing new economic sanctions against Russia in such a volume and as long as necessary.
However, the formula “how it will be needed” (who will need it: Mrs. Federal Chancellor or her political friends in Washington?) Is not satisfied with big German business. The chairmen of the boards of German companies that appear in the DAX Germany's stock market activity index insist on the early termination of the restrictive measures against Moscow or at least on their significant weakening. For companies such as BASF, E.ON or for German automobile concerns, the amounts of annual transactions with Russian partners are estimated at billions of euros.
In the first half of November, a delegation of German businessmen from 15 people, including three members of the Economic Council of the CDU (Chairman of the Eastern Committee of the German Economy Eckhard Cordes, President of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, CEO of Wintershall Holding GmbH, Rayner Seele, Head of Policy and Foreign Relations of Daimler AG Eckart von Claden), as well as Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board of Metro AG, came to Moscow and together with the heads of the representative offices of German companies in Russia met with the First Deputy Prime Minister Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. According to Eckhard Cordes, “the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss, together with the Russian side, the economic situation in Russia, the consequences of the sanctions and the future of German-Russian economic relations.”
Those who came to Moscow over the past months tried to convince the German government not to impose sanctions on Russia, so as not to "harm the joint business." Participants of the meeting with I. Shuvalov and S. Lavrov discussed ways to preserve business ties between the two countries “in the context of sanctions and the crisis in relations between Russia and the EU,” the Russian newspaper Kommersant wrote, noting that businessmen left Moscow “encouraged.”
The Office of the Federal Chancellor did not comment on the Moscow meeting. The comment was given by the Russian edition of Deutsche Welle Radio. The article “Why did the German business lobbyist go to Moscow?” Rejected the very idea of “partisan German business circles and their attempts to circumvent the economic sanctions imposed by the EU against Russian business structures”. It was noted that "the meeting took place with the knowledge of the federal government."
It is rumored in journalistic circles that many leading politicians belonging to the “big coalition” parties speak on the sidelines of the need to lift anti-Russian sanctions. At the same time, it is allegedly proposed not to associate such a decision with the annexation of Crimea to Russia. The vice chairman of the CSU, Peter Gauvayler, generally believes that Russia should be urgently returned to the G8, from where it was excluded after the Crimea was annexed to it. Bavarian P. Gauvayler says: “The Federal Chancellor and the Foreign Minister should return Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table. The common goal of the West should be Russia's participation in the G8 summit, which will be held next year in the Bavarian castle Elmau under the chairmanship of Germany. "
They say that Angela Merkel, before flying to Brisbane for the G20 summit, made it clear that "in the medium term, a return to normal relations with Moscow is possible." However, as conditions for the normalization of the current abnormal relations between Germany and Russia, were called "the cessation of further destabilization of the east of Ukraine and negotiations on the future status of the annexed Crimea." This is strange. If you really want “normal relations with Moscow”, you should not consider the Ukrainian crisis in terms of “destabilizing” the situation with Russia. And in the same way, the subject of international negotiations “on the Crimea” is not for Moscow. It would seem that in Berlin this should be understood.
The fact that Angela Merkel cannot but think about the worthy completion of her political career is quite understandable. It is also clear that she can not ignore the big German business. Although there is time before the next election to the Bundestag, we need to think about them today. And there is something to think about. From January to August of this year, exports of goods from Germany to Russia fell by 16,6%. Only in August, the decline was 26,3% in annual terms. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said in an interview with the Bild newspaper: “German companies delivered 2,3 billion euros to Russia in August, which is the weakest indicator since the financial crisis of the year 2009. Sanctions against Russia have a stronger impact on the German economy than on any other European economy. ”
The Financial Times wrote back in September: “Russia, which previously preferred Europe, is beginning to gradually turn towards Asia. If, until now, it accounted for less than 25% of the turnover of Russian foreign trade, and for Europe - more than 50%, then recently the volume of Russian trade with Asia has been growing. In particular, between the Russian Federation and China they have already surpassed the volume of trade with Germany (80 billion dollars against 50 billion). The turn is quite reasonable: it will help Moscow to hedge against stagnation in Europe. ”
Sanctions against Russia harm the German economy more than any other European economy
- Vladimir NESTEROV
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