GDR shocks Germany's political elite / News / News agency Inforos
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GDR shocks Germany's political elite

Love for Russia as an election trump card

GDR shocks Germany's political elite

Well, once again Russia "interferes in other countries' elections". This time in Germany. Not directly, of course, but through its "agents of influence", through local politicians, who are contemptuously qualified here as "those understanding Putin." The most striking thing is that this summer, the mentioned part is played by as much as the heads of the East German lands' governments, according to anti-Russian political scientists. In this regard, with a perfect sense of irony, the Munich portal focus.de wonders why they suddenly got so inflamed with passionate love for Russia?

The answer to this seemingly harmless question, is provided, for instance, by the Berliner Zeitung (BZ), which draws attention to the fact that notions like "suddenly" or "unexpectedly" are out of question in this case. First, the newspaper notes, East Germany and Russia have been bound by a special human and economic relationship for many decades; and besides, elections to the Landtags (state parliaments) crucial for this part of Germany are just around the corner. Winning it by means of anti-Russian rhetoric of Angela Merkel and her surroundings, who have long been claiming that "sanctions against Russia can be removed only after the Minsk agreements are fulfilled", is next to impossible.

The Eastern CDU and SPD, like the Left Party as well, are perfectly aware that if more than 75 per cent of the local population (over 50 per cent throughout Germany) require normal/better of relations with Russia, then, following the federal authorities' ideas and principles, the upcoming parliamentary elections will witness them suffer a defeat and get outplayed by the Alternative for Germany party consistently advocating rapprochement with Russia. Can you imagine what a slap in the face could the ruling CDU/CSU coalition and SPD get if a Prime Minister representing AfD appears, say, in Dresden (Saxony)?

Meanwhile, September 1 will see elections to the land parliaments of Saxony and Brandenburg, and the turn of Thuringia will come on October 27. It is not for nothing that all the three Prime Ministers – Michael Kretschmer (CDU), Dietmar Woidke (SPD) and Bodo Ramelow (Left party) – recently confirmed their stance in favor of lifting anti-Russian sanctions.

It is only fair to say that, despite their different party identification, the heads of all the land governments of East Germany are constantly demanding to restore the previous good-neighborly relations with Russia, but the central authorities of Germany simply ignore them, supporting every next extension of EU sanctions against Russia. However, the time has come when the entire political structure of the country's eastern part can alter enough to literally knock Chancellor Merkel out of her stride, as well as the current CSU/CDU-SPD ruling alliance.

In the meantime, the field-specific Business Insider Deutschland portal confirmed the other day that five years of anti-Russian sanctions have caused firms of East Germany much more damage than enterprises in the country's west. Thus, according to the latest study by experts of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (Ost-Ausschuss – Osteuropaverein der deutschen Wirtschaft, OAOEV), the trade exchange with Russia decreased by 72.5 per cent in Saxony during 2013-2018, while its average volume in five East German lands fell by 28.7 per cent.

And for Western Germany, this figure is only about 17 per cent. According to OAOEV Executive Director Michael Harms, the difference is due to the fact that East Germany's engineering is primarily represented by medium-sized businesses, whose traditional ties with Russian partners are very much affected by sanctions imposed.

At the same time, Michael Harms points to the so-called second-order effect of anti-Russian sanctions. They entailed, for example, a decision by a number of German companies to postpone the implementation of ambitious investment projects sine die, while Russian partners prefer to focus on China against this background. "Calculating our economic losses in these cases is of immense complexity," the portal quotes Harms as saying. Significantly, the Handelsblatt business newspaper writes that in the first quarter of 2019, Germany's direct investment in Russia grew again, increasing by a whole third compared to the same period last year and amounted to 1.76 billion euros.

Sort of a "German seesaw": feast today and fast tomorrow. And let the leading German media like the Spiegel and Focus magazines, Bild and the decent Sueddeutsche Zeitung "tease" East German politicians for their "incomprehensible love for Russia" in every possible way, but the Russian issue has reasonably become a trump card in the election campaign. And there is no way around it for the Germans, whether western or eastern.

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