At the Young Union’s “Germany Day” in Fulda, Merz demonstratively mentioned the former Chancellor in the same breath as the big CDU Chancellors. He contradicted that Schäuble indirect. Adenauer and cabbage had shown leadership, said the party leader: “Angela Merkel took over this leadership in Europe.”
Wüst reiterated that the CDU had no reason to be put on the defensive because of Merkel’s chancellorship.
Merkel has always defended her Russia policy. In June, she publicly commented on this for the first time since the end of her chancellorship. She stuck to her decision to build the Baltic Sea gas pipeline North Stream 2 after Russia Celebration. “I didn’t believe in change through trade, but in connection through trade, with the second largest nuclear power in the world,” said the CDU politician, who was Chancellor from 2005 to 2021. But it wasn’t an easy decision.
In October, Merkel reiterated that it was right to have relied heavily on cheap natural gas from Russia for a transitional period during the energy transition. “One always acts in the time in which one is,” Merkel campaigned for understanding at an event in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
Schäuble does not count Merkel among the great German chancellors
Ex-Bundestag President Schäuble had it described as remarkable in an interview with the Handelsblattthat the former chancellor “cannot say that we made mistakes in relation to Russia.”
Schäuble himself acknowledged past mistakes in dealing with Russia. When asked if he was angry at himself, he said: “Of course. We didn’t want to see it. That applies to everyone.” He regrets, for example, that he did not listen to the then Polish President Lech Kaczynski. “After Russia’s attack on Georgia, he warned in a speech: First comes Georgia, then Ukraine, then Moldova, then the Baltic states and then Poland. He was right,” says Schäuble.
Schäuble also commented on Merkel’s political legacy. At first he didn’t count Merkel among the great German chancellors, for him they were Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl. This list is “complete for the time being,” said Schäuble. “Whether Ms. Merkel will be classified among the great chancellors is perhaps too early to make a conclusive assessment.”
The party leadership said quietly that Schäuble was right in his criticism. Support for his criticism came from the party. The CDU foreign policy expert Roderich Kiesewetter told the Handelsblatt: “I share Wolfgang Schäuble’s assessment and I would like our former Chancellor to see the security policy change – as it was in Germany is absolutely necessary – would implement it in one’s own thinking.” This includes a “self-critical reflection” of Russia policy as well as security policy.
Kiesewetter said that the Russia policy of the past few years had been “quite obviously wrong” and that the wrong conclusions had been drawn from correct assessments – be it from short-term economic considerations or from coalition pressure. “There are never perfect solutions in politics, mistakes are always made, so we should also be lenient,” added Kiesewetter. “But for a forward-looking policy, it is necessary to learn from past mistakes.”
The CDU foreign policy expert, on the other hand, sees Merkel as a “great chancellor” in view of her long tenure and her merits as a crisis manager and also as a mediator in Europe. “However, being great also means being self-critical about your actions and admitting when something was wrong in retrospect,” he said.
CDU boss Merz already had the end of October CSU-Party conference in Augsburg CDU and CSU warned against questioning the former chancellor’s reign. “It’s not the last 16 years that are the problem, the last 16 weeks are the problem,” he said at the time, referring to internal disputes.
SPD criticizes previous Russia policy more clearly
In the SPD is much more critical of the Russia debate than in the CDU. Most recently, party leader Lars Klingbeil surprisingly clearly acknowledged several mistakes in his party. “The SPD believed after the end of the Cold War that relations with Russia would just keep getting better,” he said blade axe in a speech at a party event in Berlin.
This created “blind spots” that led to mistakes in dealing with Russia. Today, on the other hand, it is about organizing security against Russia, which has said goodbye to the common system of values.
In front of Klingbeil, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at the beginning of April about his role in energy policy as head of the Chancellor’s office under Gerhard Schröder and as foreign minister under Merkel and about sticking to North Stream 2 referred to as a clear error.
“We clung to bridges that Russia no longer believed in and that our partners warned us about.” He was also wrong about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.