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Russia-Germany: alternative dialogue

Moscow has been visited by Alternative for Germany members

Russia-Germany: alternative dialogue
Context:

Over the recent years, relations between Russia and Germany have deteriorated fundamentally. At the same time, the top of Germany's political stardom incidentally touches upon the need to maintain dialogue and business cooperation with Russia. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas even acknowledged the impossibility of solving international issues without Russia and stressed the importance of bilateral meetings. But such rhetoric coming from the political elite of Berlin remains no more that empty arguments. After all, no one prevents representatives of the ruling CDU/CSU and SPD coalition from coming to Moscow in a bid to have an equitable dialog. The one that is not "from a position of strength", in the parlance of CDU Chairman German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

We are a sizeable, hospitable and forgiving country, although with a certainly tenacious memory, given our centuries-old history. But any dialogue requires commitment of both parties. If one of the partners is inclined to raise claims alone, loathing rebuttal, productive dialogue is out of question. Illustrative of this was Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Bundestag members from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. AfD co-Chairman Tino Chrupalla and foreign policy expert Armin-Paul Hampel arrived in Moscow by invitation of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

The Kremlin has already assessed this visit as vital. However, the Berlin top political circles feels obviously edgy about it. We are once again dealing with the notorious "double standards", that is, German or American officials are entitled to meet with Russia's systemic and non-systemic opposition, while Russian officials are condemned for meeting AfD members, in this particular case. Extremely distinctive but quite expected. It is no accident that at a meeting with Bundestag PMs, Sergey Lavrov said the dialogue between Moscow and Berlin needed rethinking and reset. And even if its "alternative" version has taken place now, Berlin will have to consider our Minister's words that "a lot of serious problems that keep multiplying have accumulated between Moscow and Berlin".

By the way, AfD MPs noted in Moscow that their party is constantly attacked and decried at home. Having emerged in 2013, it have enjoyed substantial support throughout the country over the past few years, with its deputies sitting in the Bundestag and all the 16 regional parliaments of Germany. Traditional parties accuse the AfD of radical nationalism, but massive popular support implies that many citizens have become disillusioned with policies of both the CDU/CSU and the SPD. Who is to blame and what's the next move?  – the question should be addressed to those who have been considering themselves "people's parties" for decades, and who are now almost back to square one.

Indeed, some AfD leaders have recently indulged in making dubious statements like "12 years of Hitler's dictatorship are just are just a speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history." There are more reasons for the party's being branded as undemocratic, for the lack of enthusiasm of cooperating with it and for the raised eyebrows as "Russia invites AfD members to talks in the year marking the 75th anniversary of Hitler's fascism defeat." Well-wishers of this kind can be given an assurance that Moscow is well aware of all the successful and failed statements of various-grade German politicians. By the way, they know and appreciate AfD's consistent policy, which advocates, for instance, the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia and the completion of Nord Stream 2.

By the way, the recent proposal by German Defense Minister CDU Chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer concerning the need for a dialogue with Russia "from a position of strength" is not particularly thoughtful and appropriate. It seems however that had she expressed a wish to talk to our Defense Minister or Foreign Minister, neither Sergei Shoigu nor Sergey Lavrov would have refused. Not because she's a lady but because, pure and simple, Germany and Russia do need a dialogue. An equitable and constructive one. Otherwise, as noted by Telepolis columnist Roland Baton, "Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's strategic jaunt into international politics only entails consolidation in Moscow, a weakened European Union and blind faith in Washington's unpledged righteous deeds." Her words are a needless pouring of "oil on the fire of international politics", the author believes. So, maybe even an alternative dialogue is still more reasonable.

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