After 16 years of Angela Merkel’s term in Germany, a new era was entered with the election of Olaf Scholz as Chancellor on December 8, 2021. Scholz, who has held various positions as Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and Prime Minister of the State of Hamburg, has faced numerous regional and global crises since taking over from Angela Merkel. On the day he took office, Scholz stated that he would be in favor of continuity in foreign policy, and became one of the most talked about world leaders due to his stance in the Russia-Ukraine War.
Announcing that they will invest more in defense than before and reduce dependence on Russia for energy, Scholz announced that 100 billion euros of financial resources will be allocated for the modernization and strengthening of the German Army. The statement was interpreted as a signal that Germany, which pursued cautious and passive policies after the Second World War, would undergo radical changes in world politics. Therefore, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has increased security concerns. While this situation is described as a turning point in Germany; it is expected that new applications will be implemented in many areas in the country, from defense to energy. In this context, the experts evaluated the policies that Germany will implement during the Scholz term to the Ankara Crisis and Politics Research Center (ANKASAM).
ANKASAM Advisor Dr. Emre Ozan: “Russia’s attack on Ukraine has changed Germany’s foreign policy.”
Dr. Emre Ozan, advisor to ANKASAM, pointed out that Germany’s foreign policy has always been cautious and balanced, and that Russia’s attack against Ukraine has led to radical changes in German foreign policy. Ozan stressed that Germany would take measures to reduce energy dependence from Russia and make a serious move to take arms. “This move arises from the need for Germany to be stronger in the face of conventional military threats. Russia’s aggression was the underlying development that generated this need. This is why Germany’s relations with the United States (USA) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will become more important. However, this armament effort should not be seen only as a measure against Russia. Overall, in the face of multipolarity in the international system, Germany will want to redefine its position. In this regard, military force is of great importance. Military capacity is also considered necessary for more balanced relations with the United States when it comes to it.”
Prof. Uğur Özgöker: “Germany will emerge as a military power in Europe.”
Stressing that the comments that Scholz drew a weak profile after Merkel were not true, Prof. Dr. Uğur Özgöker said that Germany has a strong state tradition. Özgöker said, “Germany has aimed at economic development so far and has turned from a rockless Germany in 1945 into a country that has become the second largest economy in the world.”
Emphasizing that the Berlin administration began to change its passive policy after the Russian-Ukrainian War, Özgöker said, “In fact, Germany had to follow a passive policy because it was suppressed after the Second World War. Otherwise, Germany has always pursued an interventionist policy in Europe and Eurasia throughout its history. However, after the Second World War, it had to keep a low profile because its armament was banned. But now we have seen that it has begun to invest even more than Russia in defense, allocating 100 billion euros of financial resources for armament.” said.
Özgöker said, “The Ukrainian War was the last straw for Germany. Germany saw that the United States and its allies should not be trusted too much. The conditions of the world have changed. The ban on armaments has also been lifted. Germany was giving money to the United States. It says that now I will give my own money and make my own weapons. Therefore, Germany has begun to emerge as a military power rather than a political power in Europe.”
Retired Ambassador Avni Karslıoğlu: “Scholz’s decision to increase defense spending is a sign of a change in Germany.”
Expressing that Germany’s foreign policy is based on trade, former Ambassador to Berlin Avni Karslıoğlu stressed that the Russia-Ukraine War has changed Germany’s policy, noting that it is difficult to predict in which direction the changes will take place. Karslıoğlu said, “Germany had a policy of ‘changing it by trading’. They have tried it with many countries, especially China and Russia. The goal here was to make countries dependent on them through trade. But the decisions made so far are very recent, it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen.”
Karslıoğlu said, “Scholz is someone who knows about trade with the whole world because he was the Mayor of Hamburg. He can look at things from a wider angle. Until two weeks ago, Scholz was the same as other Chancellors, but now there are changes in policy. The fact that he said that he would spend 100 billion euros on defense and decided to help Ukraine is a sign of change in Germany, but we don’t know how sustainable this is.”
Retired Colonel Coşkun Başbuğ: Germany can take the stage as a military power.
Stating that Germany is in a position that stabilizes Europe and keeps it economically afloat, and that it wants to bring a new status to Europe in a military sense, retired Colonel Coskun Başbuğ said, “The European Army idea is given by French President Emmanuel Macron, but Germany is the main financier. It has allocated 5 million euros for this, but the United States has blocked this project. Why? Because NATO is the most useful tool used by the United States. The USA sells weapons over it and designs politics on it. They’re all Trump cards for the United States. Therefore, the establishment of the European Army would mean the brain death of the USA. That idea was suppressed during the time of the former USA but it never got on shelf.”
Başbuğ, who interpreted Scholz’s allocation of 100 billion euros for the development of the German Army knowing the chaos environment as an important development, suggested that the new world order was going to a multipolar process, and in this system, Europe would be a pole, and Germany and France would lead it.
“If new steps towards defense come from Scholz, Germany can seriously take the stage as a military power in the world.” Başbuğ said. Therefore, we can say that Germany has moved from a passive policy to an aggressive one. In doing so, Germany is also in search of conducting a good balance policy. This is also indicative of Scholz’s visit to Turkey.”
Journalist Hüseyin Gökçe: Germany is preparing for the worst-case scenario.
Stating that Scholz’s statement on increasing defense spending points to a paradigm change in Germany’s foreign policy, Hüseyin Gökçe said, “Increasing sanctions against Russia and instead playing Russia’s energy card led Germany to a new direction.”
“The Scholz administration, which has allocated 100 billion euros of funds for defense spending and also takes into account the energy threat of Russia, aims to reduce the level of dependence by increasing the share of renewable energy sources in total energy consumption. All these developments show that no matter how the Russian-Ukrainian War ends, Germany is preparing itself for all kinds of scenarios.” Gökçe said.