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MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. Angela Merkel’s ten years in office as Germany’s federal chancellor were a no easy period in Russian-German relations, but her pragmatism makes one hopeful the development of bilateral relations will follow a constructive path, polled experts have told TASS.
Merkel was elected federal chancellor on November 22, 2005. She was the first woman to have taken this post in the whole history of Germany. According to Forbes magazine, Merkel is currently the most powerful woman in the world.
The head of European political studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nadezhda Arbatova, recalls that Russian-German relations, just as Moscow-West relations in general, took a sharp turn for the worse after Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the beginning of hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine. Merkel was one of the architects of the European Union’s sanctions against Russia.
"Russian-German relations are unlikely to get back to where they had been before the Ukrainian crisis, let alone come anywhere near the favourable level that existed during the chancellorship of Gerchard Schroeder or Mikhail Gorbachev’s presidency. There will be no strategic partnership between Moscow and Berlin. But, bearing in mind Merkel’s pragmatic character, German-Russian relations can be made more stable and predictable," Arbatova told TASS.
The director of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, Timofei Bordachev, believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s relations with Gerchard Schroeder were better than with Angela Merkel. When Schroeder was in office, everything in Germany and the European Union was calm and bright, because the then German leader had the time and wish to advance cooperation with Russia, in part, to implement the Nord Stream gas pipeline project.
"In contrast to Schroeder Merkel throughout her tenure of office was confronted with a number of major challenges to the European Union. Germany as Europe’s largest economy has had to assume the responsibility for the recent Greek crisis that brought Athens pretty close to quitting the euro area, and for the Ukrainian crisis, in which Merkel plays an important role in enforcing the Minsk Accords, and for the current migrant crisis. For this reason Merkel is focused on efforts for the sake of Europeans’ future generations and this is how she sees her mission," Bordachev told TASS.
As for the migration crisis in the EU countries, many European politicians blame it on Merkel, who agreed to welcome refugees from the Middle East, but the very same critics may soon feel envy at the sight of Germany’s economic boom.
"Merkel is firmly in favour of accommodating refugees in Germany because she hopes that in this way she will manage to invigorate the German economy with cheap labour force, which enjoys no social protection. German companies have long been interested in restricting the activity of trade unions and filling vacancies with unassuming workers. In that sense Syrian refugees in Germany will play the very same role of economic growth engine migrants from Mexico play in the United States," Bordachev said.
"Although in contrast to Schroeder Merkel in bilateral relations with Russia tends to focus on politics, and not economics, energy cooperation proceeds as usual. Another line of the Nord Stream gas carrier is being laid. Germany imports Russian oil and gas and remains one of Russia’s largest trading partners. Trade with Germany in 2014 was at $70 billion, which is 6% less than in 2013," Bordachev said.
The director of the Political Studies Institute, Civic Chamber Member Sergey Markov, believes that after the Ukrainian crisis German-Russian relations will get even better than they have ever been.
"Merkel will be keen to position Germany as an informal leader of the European Union and shrug off US patronage. In other words, to be a more independent politician with a view to trying to get elected for a fourth term in 2017. For this she will need a lasting relationship of trust with all key countries in Europe, including Russia," Markov said.
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