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David X. Noack

Kritische Perspektiven auf Geschichte und internationale Politik


“On Alert” Over Slovakia

german-foreign-policy.com, 2023/10/23

Germany increases pressure on Slovakia. The reason: The new government of Slovakia, a country economically dependent on Germany, plans to discontinue the policy of economic liberalism and tends toward friendship with Russia.

In the aftermath of Slovakia’s parliamentary elections, Germany is increasing pressure on the country’s new government, which plans to discontinue the policy of economic liberalism and, even tends toward friendship with Russia. Its incoming prime minister, Robert Fico, declares that his foreign minister will “no longer speak for foreign interests” – especially regarding the policy toward Russia. Arms deliveries to Ukraine, in which Bratislava held a leading position, compared to its GDP, have already been halted. Fico insists that EU and NATO allies must also “fully respect” Slovakia’s “sovereignty.” An influential journalist at Berlin’s daily Tagesspiegel insulted Slovakia’s future head of government as being “basically (…) ‘national socialist’.” The EU social democratic party PES (Party of European Socialists), wherein the German SPD has a strong influence, has already suspended Fico’s Smer-SSD party and its coalition partner Hlas-SD. Following his election, German public radio described Fico as “a sort of Putin’s Trojan horse.”

“Putin’s Trojan Horse”

Already prior to Slovakia’s new governing coalition agreement, a German public broadcaster claimed that Smer-SSD’s electoral victory was “putting the EU on alert.” The former and probably next prime minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, was said to be “a sort of Putin’s Trojan horse.” Moreover, Dietmar Köster, the SPD’s EU Parliamentary Foreign Policy Spokesman, told the Tagesschau news: “Fico’s election success is not good for the EU.” CDU politician Michael Gahler, foreign policy spokesman for the CDU-dominated European People’s Party (EPP), added: “If Robert Fico actually does what he promised during the election campaign, (…) that would be reason enough for us to be concerned.”[1]

“Fully Respect Sovereignty”

During the campaign for Slovakia’s September 30 parliamentary elections, former Prime Minister Fico (in office from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018) had raised opposition to his country’s continuing arms deliveries to Ukraine, had advocated negotiations with Russia, and polemicized against both Slovakian banks and food corporations. In the previous three years of liberal governments since 2020, the country’s standard of living had constantly fallen.[2] In the coalition agreement, the incoming ruling parties Smer-SSD, HLAS-SD and SNS (Slovak National Party) agreed to terminate social cutbacks. In addition, Fico declared that the country’s future foreign minister would “no longer speak for foreign interests.” Other countries – including EU and NATO members – would have to “fully respect” Slovakia’s “sovereignty.”[3] Rudolf Huliak, who is being considered as the possible minister of the environment, announced that if he were to lead the government, his first trip would be to Moscow, to “ask forgiveness” for Slovakia sending weapons to Ukraine.[4]

Military Aid for Ukraine

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war in February of last year, Slovakia has played a disproportionately important role in military supplies for that neighboring East European country. Compared to its GDP, it was the sixth largest supplier of military hardware to Ukraine, surpassing even major EU powers such as France, Italy and Spain.[5] However, Slovakia’s deliveries of military supplies into that neighboring country have already been halted. The current technocrat government under ?udovít Ódor, former Vice Governor of that small nation’s National Bank, currently still in office, had prepared another weapons shipment for Ukraine. On October 4, the President of the liberal conservatives, Zuzana ?aputová, who had appointed Ódor’s government, halted the shipment of weapons. She justified her decision saying that election results must be respected.[6] Germany had thus already lost an important ally in the field of military aid to Ukraine.

Strained Relations

In a report on the Slovak election results, the CSU-affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSS) suggested that German-Slovak relations were strained. “Fico’s statements” – comparing the Bundeswehr stationed in Slovakia, in the context of foreign troops, to the Wehrmacht – will “strain” future “German-Slovak relations.” However, there are few alternatives for a marginal EU country, such as Slovakia. The HSS suggested ways to apply pressure on Bratislava: “Deepening economic cooperation is in their mutual interests.”[7]

“Communist” and “National Socialist”

The so-called diplomatic correspondent of the editor and chief of Berlin’s Tagesspiegel went so far as to say that Fico is an “ex-communist head of government.” The young Fico had joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KS?) in 1986. At the time, he was a military investigator in the Czechoslovakian Army. He first became head of government in 2006, when Slovakia had already joined the EU and NATO. He was already head of the social democratic Smer Party. According to an influential author at the Tagesspiegel, Fico is not only an ex-communist, but also a National Socialist: “The left is appropriating the national idea (…). Actually, they should be referred to as national socialist”.[8] Such insubstantial insults are common in Germany’s liberal-conservative mainstream, as soon as heads of states and governments in Central Europe, the classical backyard of German great-power policy, deviate from Germany’s foreign policy.

Suspension from the PES

After the coalition agreement was announced in Bratislava, the EU’s Social Democratic Party, PES, (Party of European Socialists), wherein the SPD plays an important role, suspended the membership of the two Slovak parties, Smer-SSD and Hlas-SD.[9] The European Parliament’s S & D (Socialists & Democrats) group announced that the Smer and Hlas parliamentarians should also be expelled from their group.[10] The reason given in both cases was that the two Slovak parties have entered a coalition with the national-conservative Slovak National Party (SNS). Katarina Barley, former German Minister of Family Affairs, SPD parliamentarian and Vice President of the EU Parliament, has “called for a tough course” in the case of the Smer and Hlas parties.[11] When, from 2016 – 2020, the Smer– at the time the Hlas had not yet split off – had joined the largely neoliberal government with SNS, Smer membership in the SPE and the S & D had not been suspended.

Automotive Industry

The attempt to apply pressure on Slovakia is made a bit more difficult, due to the special significance that this Central-East European country has for Germany: It produces the most autos per capita in the world. In Slovakia – with a population of a bit more than 5 million citizens – various auto manufacturers produced one million cars last year.[12] In the Volkswagen Slovakia factories, for example, Volkswagen, Audis, Porsches, and Škodas are produced. According to company information, “more than 99% of the production” is exported. One of the most important export markets is Germany.[13]

[1] Matthias Reiche: Warum Fico die EU in Alarmstimmung versetzt. tagesschau.de 02.10.2023.
[2] Jakub Bokes: Die Wahlen in der Slowakei drehten sich um mehr als Russland. jacobin.de 16.10.2023.
[3] Populist Slovak ex-prime minister signs coalition deal with 2 other parties to form a new government. apnews.com 16.10.2023.
[4] Matúš Be?o: News digest: Fico’s government is in the making, here are the basics. spectator.sme.sk 16.10.2023.
[5] Pavel Bart?šek: Riskante Veränderung der politischen Orientierung bei vergangenen und kommenden Wahlen. voxeurop.eu 16.10.2023.
[6] Vladimír Šnídl: Na obrane zvažovali ?alší vojenský balík pre Ukrajinu, pod?a prezidentky treba rešpektova? výsledky volieb. dennikn.sk 04.10.2023.
[7] Markus Ehm: Schwierige Regierungsbildung in der Slowakei. hss.de 02.10.2023.
[8] Christoph von Marschall: Deutsche Einheit, Slowakei und USA: Gefährliche Drift in den Populismus. tagesspiegel.de 02.10.2023.
[9] Thomas Gutschker: Europäische Sozialdemokraten suspendieren Wahlsieger Fico. faz.net 13.10.2023.
[10] Die S&D-Fraktion plant die Suspendierung ihrer slowakischen Europaabgeordneten. socialistsanddemocrats.eu 12.10.2023.
[11] Eric Bonse: Rauswurf für Ficos Genossen, blogs.taz.de 14.10.2023.
[12] Jana Liptáková: Slovak car industry keeps momentum. spectator.sme.sk 18.01.2023.
[13] Profil der Volkswagen Slovakia. sk.volkswagen.sk (ohne Datum).


The Second Comeback of the “Populist”

german-foreign-policy.com, 2023/09/29

With tomorrow’s, Saturday’s parliamentary elections in Slovakia, the German government could lose an important ally in the Ukraine war. Prime Minister Robert Fico’s SMER party is the frontrunner in the polls and has good chances of forming a governing coalition – for the third time since 2006 and 2012. His popularity derives primarily from the social and economic misery into which the country has plunged under previous governments. For Berlin and the West, however, Fico’s intention to change course in the Ukraine policy is a serious matter. Not only does he want to stop arms deliveries to Ukraine, he also rejects EU sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, SMER favors closer cooperation with China and Cuba, among others. Current pro-Western President Zuzana ?aputova has declared this will be a “fateful election.” Because of their dissenting foreign policy, Fico and his SMER party had already come under massive attack in Germany during their previous terms of office. It looks like something similar might happen again.

“Fateful Election”
Tomorrow, Saturday, Slovak voters are called to elect a new parliament, the National Council of the Slovak Republic. All polls show the SMER (“Direction”) party leading in popularity. Party leader Robert Fico has announced that his government will not send a “single round” to Ukraine.[1] Fico previously served as prime minister from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2018. During the election campaign, referring to the Ukraine war, he also declared “this war is not our war.”[2] For the current liberal-conservative President, Zuzana ?aputová, regarded as the country’s “anchor of pro-Western orientation”, this is a “fateful election: a vote on whether the Slovaks want to preserve their pro-Western orientation.”[3]

Ukraine’s “Major Ally”
Immediately following the beginning of Russia’s intervention, Slovakia was still considered Ukraine’s “major ally” by the EU and NATO. Slovakia became the first country to provide Ukraine with long-range air defense. President ?aputová, who once worked for US-American NGOs, was one of the early advocates for EU candidate status for Ukraine.[4] However, Slovak support for Ukraine, has already been anything but unconditional: Last spring the Slovak government halted imports of grain and other food products from its eastern neighbor.[5] Following the elections, additional reductions in bilateral relations may be in the offing.

“Worries in the West”
Already when Fico became prime minister the first time in 2006 and the second time in 2012, it raised great concern in Berlin (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) Similar to then, his SMER party’s lead in the polls and the strong possibility that Fico may return to the prime minister’s office “has raised eyebrows in Brussels.”[7] This development is “critical for the partners in the EU,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung, for example, commented.[8] In an interview with the CSU affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation, a Slovak sociologist concluded that with a Prime Minister Fico, Slovakia would become “another problematic partner within the European Union” alongside Hungary.[9] A project manager of the FDP affiliated Friedrich-Naumann Foundation even declared that the country was in danger of “falling prey to pro-Russian propaganda.”[10]

New Foreign Policy Priorities
Regarding Ukraine policy, Robert Fico has announced that he would halt arms deliveries, and pledged to veto Ukraine’s membership in NATO, if ever that possibility arises.[11] The Chair of SMER recently likened the arrival of Bundeswehr NATO soldiers in Slovakia, to a “welcoming of the Wehrmacht” in World War II.[12] Also beyond Ukraine policy, the leading party in the polls seeks to set new accents in foreign policy. Presenting SMER’s foreign policy priorities and stances early this month, Fico declared that his party is promising to expand cooperation with China, Cuba and Vietnam and restore ties with Russia.[13]

Against Sanctions
SMER’s rejection of the Western sanctions policy is no exception in Slovakia’s political landscape. Only half of the parties likely to enter the next National Council support EU sanctions against Russia. Those parties with good chances of forming a new coalition, are not only opposing sanctions against Russia but are also in favor of closer cooperation with the People’s Republic of China.[14] The presumed future Prime Minister Fico even called the EU sanctions “senseless” and announced his intention to veto them.[15]

“Consequences” for SMER
Berlin has long since begun to put Fico under pressure. SPD party chair Lars Klingbeil threatened SMER with “consequences,” if it should again govern with the national-conservative Slovak National Party (SNS). The SPD is “monitoring” the situation and maintains a “cordon sanitaire” vis-à-vis the SNS, Klingbeil declared during the summer.[16] When SMER first entered a coalition with the SNS, beginning in 2006, the Party of European Socialists (PES), in which the SPD wields strong influence, suspended SMER’s membership.[17] The suspension was lifted in 2008, a year before European elections. When Fico made statements deemed anti-Islamic, in 2015, leading PES politicians again raised the demand of putting SMER’s membership on ice.[18] However, threats of “consequences” are considered unlikely to have an impact on the formation of the coalition in Bratislava.

Long-Term Influence Work
German political foundations, promoting the country’s pro-Western orientation, have been active in Slovakia for the past three decades. Already in the third month of that country’s independence, declared on January 1, 1993, the CSU-affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSS) was registered by the Slovakian Ministry of the Interior. The Prime Minister at the time, Eduard Heger, personally attended the HSS’s 30th Anniversary celebration of activity in that country.[19] Because of corruption scandals in his government, Heger was forced to resign a few weeks later. In Slovakia, alongside the HSS, the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Green-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation, the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNS) are active.

“Tyranny of the Majority”
Germany’s government, political foundations and media had already strongly opposed Prime minister Fico during his first two terms in office. When Fico was elected Prime Minister in 2006, the German government demonstratively did not invite him to an inaugural visit.[20] Years ago, a paper by the KAS characterized Fico’s government from 2006 – 2010 as having been a “tyranny of the majority.”[21] In 2011, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) warned that Fico’s return to power would signal the “end of the reform era.”[22] Shortly prior to the 2012 elections, the journal called Fico “a populist,” who, already in the past, had focused his foreign policy on close relations with “Cuba, Belarus, and Russia.”[23] Following his election, several regional journals in Germany wrote that Fico cultivated “an authoritarian style of governing” and is “taking populist paths.”[24] Following the elections on the weekend, the trend will probably continue.

Social Problems
Tomorrow’s parliamentary elections is likely to be more so determined by the social and economic misery in Slovakia, than by foreign policy. Last year, inflation had risen to 12 percent. For this year 11 percent is predicted. The rate of inflation is therefore around double the average within the Eurozone, which Slovakia joined in 2009 – unlike its neighboring Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, who still do not use this currency. Food prices are particularly onerous.[25] SMER rejects austerity and campaigns on the promise to regulate retail food prices.[26]

[1] Jan Lopatka, Radovan Stoklasa: ‘Not a single round’: Slovak election could see Kyiv lose staunch ally. reuters.com 21.09.2023.
[2] Jan Puhl: Comeback des Geschassten. spiegel.de 09.05.2023.
[3] Danko Handrick: Ein Wahlsystem der Extreme. tagesschau.de 07.09.2023.
[4] Dmytro Tuzhansky: Why Slovakia Has Become Ukraine’s Major Ally in the EU and NATO. eurointegration.com.ua 08.06.2022.
[5] Jon Henley: Slovakia joins Poland and Hungary in halting Ukraine grain imports. theguardian.com 17.04.2023.
[6] See also  Pjöngjang an der DonauDie Rückkehr des „Populisten” and Auf „populistischen Pfaden”.
[7] Jan Lopatka, Radovan Stoklasa: ‘Not a single round’: Slovak election could see Kyiv lose staunch ally. reuters.com 21.09.2023.
[8] Viktoria Großmann, Cathrin Kahlweit: Liebesgrüße nach Moskau. Süddeutsche Zeitung 15.09.2023.
[9] Interview mit dem slowakischen Soziologen Michal Vaše?ka. hss.de 22.09.2023.
[10] Barbora Krempaská: Zugespitzter Wahlkampf: Muss Europa einen slowakischen Orbán befürchten? freiheit.org 27.09.2023.
[11] Jan Lopatka, Radovan Stoklasa: ‘Not a single round’: Slovak election could see Kyiv lose staunch ally. reuters.com 21.09.2023.
[12] Balazs Tarnok: The West Can’t Ignore Slovakia’s Election. foreignpolicy.com 18.07.2023.
[13] Smer Presents Foreign Policy Priorities and Stances. tasr.sk 12.09.2023.
[14] Barbara Zmušková, Lucia Yar: Großteil der slowakischen Parteien lehnt neue Russland-Sanktionen ab. euractiv.de 11.09.2023.
[15] Yelizaveta Landenberger: Parlamentswahl in der Slowakei. tagesspiegel.de 11.09.2023.
[16] Barbara Zmušková: Germany’s SPD backs Slovak Hlas joining EU socialists. euractiv.com 11.07.2023.
[17] Slovak party suspended from PES. euractiv.com 13.10.2006.
[18] Pittella asks for the suspension of Robert Fico from the Party of European Socialists (PES). socialistsanddemocrats.eu 23.09.2015.
[19] Markus Ehm: 30 Jahre HSS in der Slowakei. hss.de 17.03.2023.
[20] See also Pjöngjang an der Donau.
[21] Grigorij Mesežnikov: Die Slowakei nach der Wahl. KAS-Auslandsinformationen 4/2011.
[22] Karl-Peter Schwarz: Den Wahlsieg in der Slowakei fest im Blick. faz.net 14.10.2011.
[23] Martin Hock: Slowakische Anleihen – Besser auf die Wahlen warten. faz.net 31.01.2012.
[24] See also Auf „populistischen Pfaden”.
[25] Péter Szitá, Michael O’Shea: Will Slovakia’s Elections Signal War Fatigue? nationalinterest.org 17.09.2023.
[26] Jakub Bokes: For Slovakia’s Left, Welfare Spending and Nationalism Make an Awkward Match, jacobin.com 05.09.2023.


Transnistria’s Diplomacy During the First 15 Months of the Russian War

defactostates.ut.ee, 2023/07/20

Transnistria found itself in an unprecedented political situation as the Russian aggression in Ukraine continues. In the early days of Transnistria’s secession from the territories of the Republic of Moldova, the government and political elite in Tiraspol could rely on support from both Kyiv and Moscow. However, the Transnistrian-Ukrainian relations began to deteriorate after the Orange Revolution in 2004/2005 and which continued after the regime change in Kyiv, in 2014. Nevertheless, Tiraspol could never ignore the fact that Odessa, for a long duration, has been the most crucial port for its export-oriented economy, especially for exports to post-Soviet states. Now, Odessa has become off-limits, and Tiraspol must cope with this blow to their trade route somehow, by performing a delicate dance of maneuvering and balancing.

Read the full article here.


The Next Setback in the Sahel

german-foreign-policy.com, 2023/04/25

Chad accuses German ambassador of fomenting tensions within the country and expels him. German diplomacy is thus embroiled in crisis in yet another Sahel country.

By expelling the German ambassador, Chad is the next Sahel country heading for confrontation with EU states. According to reports, the government in N’Djamena accuses the German ambassador of fomenting tensions with comments that interfere in Chad’s internal affairs. Berlin is defending its diplomat and praises his activities as “exemplary,” and has ordered, in a tit-for-tat response, Chad’s ambassador in Berlin to leave the country. The relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Chad have been considered comparably unimpressive: The country is part of Françafrique, France’s direct sphere influence in its former colonies, over which, it has long maintained neocolonial control, whereas first Bonn, and later Berlin, have never succeeded in establishing a strong influence of their own. The escalation of the dispute with N’Djamena follows other severe setbacks for Germany, France and the EU in Mali and Burkina Faso, which have forced the withdrawal of French troops operating on their territories. The EU powers’ influence in the Sahel is beginning to wane.

Expulsions of Ambassadors

On April 7, the government of the central African nation of Chad ordered the German ambassador Jan-Christian Gordon Kricke, to leave the country – the official justification of the measure being the diplomat’s “impolite attitude” and “lack of respect for diplomatic customs.” It was reported, that, in talks, including with European residents of Chad, Kricke had repeatedly accused Chad’s government of discriminating against the Christian part of the population and of splitting the country. In N’Djamena this was seen as an attempt to foment tensions in Chad.[1] The German foreign ministry declared the accusations to be “absolutely incomprehensible,”[2] and, following his expulsion, praised the ambassador, who previously had served as the German foreign ministry’s head of the Sahel Task Force in Niger, for his “exemplary work.”[3] The German government in turn, ordered Chad’s ambassador to leave the country – “rapidly,” as the French press emphasized.[4] Chad’s diplomatic mission in Berlin is one of the country’s only three embassies within the EU.

A Typical Françafrique Nation

Chad is considered a typical nation of Françafrique, the former French colonies in Africa.[5] According to a study on the region, the persisting neocolonial dependence – even after official independence – is being sustained by “highly personalized networks, which guarantee French access to the resources and markets in Africa.”[6] This refers to a kind of “backyard” („pré carré”), which, through “clientelist and corrupt activities,” facilitates “the maintenance of political and economic control,” akin to a “colonial relationship.”[7] This can also be seen in socioeconomic data: Chad is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, with 2 million people (of its nearly 18 million inhabitants) facing severe food shortages, according to the World Food Program, and 42 percent of the population living below the poverty line.[8]

Early Relations

Chad officially achieved independence from France, the colonial power, in 1960 under the conditions of Françafrique. Already in the first year of this limited independence, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) established diplomatic relations with the new nation.[9] After Chad’s government diplomatically recognized the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Bonn symbolically scaled down its relations. As a consequence of the FRG’s “Hallstein-Doctrine,” wherein West Germany claimed it was the sole legitimate representative of the German people, the FRG no longer had an ambassador in N’Djamena in 1971 and 1972. However, relations between the two countries were not suspended.[10] The “Basic Treaty” between the GDR and the FRG signed in December 1972, terminated the FRG’s claim to being the sole legitimate representative of the German people.

First Break in Relations

In the spring of 1974, rebels from northern Chad kidnapped the West German development aid employee Christoph Staewen, a nephew of the German President at the time, Gustav Heinemann (SPD), and killed his wife, Elfriede.[11] To obtain Staewen’s release, the government-financed international broadcaster Deutsche Welle broadcast a message from the rebels. The government in N’Djamena broke off diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany, and expelled all West Germans from the country.[12] Following a payment of DM 2.2 million (approx. €1.2 million), the rebels liberated Staewen.[13]

Pawn between Berlin and Paris

In the context of their EUFOR (EU Forces) Chad/RCA (Republic of Central Africa) in 2008 – 2009, more than 3,000 soldiers had been stationed in Chad. The Bundeswehr, at the time, explicitly rejected dispatching troops, because they would have been in support of the reign of Idriss Déby, the head of state loyal to France. Top-ranking West German politicians, such as the spokesperson of the Greens in the EU Parliament, Angelika Beer, criticized the mission, saying, this is “merely a French mission, bearing a European label.”[14] The EUFOR Chad/RCA was discontinued after a year in operation, because a group of EU states – including Germany – refused to support the mission.[15]

Hardly any Relations

Due to Chad’s close ties to France, Germany has only very limited relations with that country. For example, for the years from 2018 to 2020, the Germany Trade and Invest (gtai) foreign investment agency registered imports and exports in hardly mentionable quantities. In 2018 Germany imported a mere €1.3 million worth of commodities from Chad.[16] Just recently, the German government announced it would continue its activities in the Sahel region, even after the Bundeswehr’s withdrawal from Mali. Germany’s Minister of Development Svenja Schulze (SPD) announced a “Sahel Initiative,” in which “the development policy engagement will be even [expanded].”[17] Currently, however, bilateral technical and financial cooperation between Germany and Chad have been suspended.[18]

Increased Military Contacts

Since 2014, the armed forces of the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauretania, Niger, Chad) have been cooperating in the context of the organization G5 Sahel. The Chadian Army is among the most combat-tested armed forces.[19] In the course of the Bundeswehr’s mission in Mali, German and Chadian troops were at times working together. Parallel to the EU and UN mandated military missions in Mali – EUTM Mali and MINUSMA, from 2014 to 2021, France was on the ground in several of its former colonies in West and Central Africa with its Opération Barkhane. Within this context, French troops were cooperating with soldiers from five Françafrique-nations. The main base of operations for Opération Barkhane was a base In N’Djamena.[20] France uses Chad as a staging area to militarily secure its neo-colonial dependencies throughout the Sahel region.

Precarious Dependency

In February 2019, the French Army intervened in Chad’s Civil War to an extent not seen in a long time. French troops independently bombed those rebel groups opposing the authoritarian rule of the head of state Idriss Déby, who had been in power since 1990. Previously, France had usually concentrated on providing support to Chad’s Army.[21] In April 2021, Idriss Déby died of injuries sustained under circumstances never really elucidated. According to the official version, he had been wounded during a visit to the front lines in a rebel held area. His adoptive son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno succeeded him as President of the Military Transitional Council and, therefore, is Chad’s de facto President. Initially, after 18 months of junta rule, elections were supposed to be held, however, in October, the Military Transitional Council issued a two-year postponement.[22]

[1] Pourquoi Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno a renvoyé l’ambassadeur allemand. jeuneafrique.com 12.04.2023.

[2] Deutscher Botschafter ausgewiesen. taz.de 08.04.2023.

[3] Germany expels Chad’s ambassador in tit-for-tat response. dw.com 11.04.2023.

[4] Pascal Thibaut: L’Allemagne annonce à son tour l’expulsion de l’ambassadeur du Tchad. rfi.fr 12.04.2023.

[5] Xavier Hussein: Françafrique: Alive and Well in Franco-Chadian Relations. internationalaffairshouse.org 23.05.2021.

[6] Ian Taylor: France à fric: the CFA zone in Africa and neocolonialism, in: Third World Quarterly, Jg. 40 (2019), Nr. 6, S. 1064–1088 (hier: S. 1065).

[7] Maja Bovcon: Françafrique and regime theory, in: European Journal of International Relations, Jg. 19 (2011), Nr. 1, S. 5–26 (hier: S. 6/7).

[8] Chad’s junta delays elections by two years, allows interim leader Deby to stay in power. france24.com 02.10.2022. Sowie: Chad. wfp.org.

[9] Torben Gülstorff: Resetting the Relevance of the Berlin Wall – German Public Diplomacies on the African Continent During the Cold War, in: Óscar J. Martín García/Rósa Magnúsdóttir (Hgg.): Machineries of Persuasion – European Soft Power and Public Diplomacy during the Cold War, München 2018, S. 85–104 (hier: S. 90).

[10] Sonderbare Laufbahn, in: DER SPIEGEL 36/1978.

[11] Nathaniel K. Powell: The ‘Claustre Affair’ – A Hostage Crisis, France, and Civil War in Chad, 1974–77, in: Jussi M. Hanhimäki/Bernhard Blumenau (Hgg.): An International History of Terrorism – Western and Non-Western Experiences, Abingdon/New York (NY) 2013, S. 189–209 (hier: S. 194).

[12] Tschad weist alle Deutschen aus, in: DIE ZEIT 26/1974.

[13] Sonderbare Laufbahn, in: DER SPIEGEL 36/1978.

[14] See also Militär für Afrika (II).

[15] See also Transatlantische Front.

[16] Wirtschaftsdaten kompakt: Tschad. gtai.de Mai 2021.

[17] Weiter Anti-Terror-Kampf im Sahel. taz.de 10.04.2023.

[18] Deutschland und Tschad: bilaterale Beziehungen. auswaertiges-amt.de 14.04.2023.

[19] Philippe Leymarie: Frankreichs Krieg im Sahel, in: Le Monde diplomatique, 11.02.2021.

[20] Philippe Leymarie: Militärische Optionen, in: Le Monde diplomatique, 12.07.2018.

[21] Rémi Carayol: Die Rückkehr der Generäle, in: Le Monde diplomatique, 11.07.2019.

[22] Chad’s junta delays elections by two years, allows interim leader Deby to stay in power. france24.com 02.10.2022.


Germany’s Traditional Partner (II)

german-foreign-policy.com, 2022/09/29

Already since its independence, Bulgaria’s history has been closely linked to Germany’s. The country was allied to Berlin in both World War I and II.

BERLIN/SOFIA (Own report) – A party founded and formed in close cooperation with Germany’s CDU/CSU is leading in the run-up to next Sunday’ parliamentary elections in Bulgaria. The GERB party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov can expect up to a quarter of the votes. Currently GERB is, however, largely isolated due to corruption allegations. Bulgaria can look back on a long history of close collaboration with Germany, dating back to the era of the German Empire. Already at that time, the political as well as economic ties had been were very close. Bulgaria participated in World War I on the side of the Central Powers. After the war, leading Bulgarian military commanders and state representatives fled into exile in Germany. At the time, segments of the German right had praised Bulgarian politicians for their open resistance to the peace treaties (“Paris Dictate”). Soon, bilateral relations regained momentum, particularly mediated initially through the rapid restoration of German-Bulgarian economic relations, which also formed the basis for Bulgaria’s cooperation with the Nazi-Reich.

A German Czar
On October 5, 1908, the hitherto ruling German Prince of Bulgaria Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, proclaimed his country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire and himself Czar of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian state allied itself closely with Germany. In 1912, 15.6 percent of Bulgaria’s exports were to the German Empire and 20.4 percent of that Balkan state’s imports came from Germany.[1] In 1914, relations intensified when the Bulgarian government was seeking a credit from western European financiers. British and French banks had offered credits to Bulgaria’s parliament and government in exchange for a stake in the proceeds of Bulgaria’s lucrative tobacco trade. On pressure from the foreign ministry in Berlin, the Disconto-Gesellschaft – which merged into Deutsche Bank in 1929 – granted Bulgaria a credit, which was not linked to proceeds from tobacco exports. In return, Sofia conceded to Germany a leading role in the country’s industrialization.[2] Under the aegis of the British American Tobacco company, Bulgarian tobacco exports came to a halt with the beginning of WWI in the summer 1914. In the years thereafter, the country exported mainly tobacco to the two Central Powers – Germany and Austria-Hungary instead.[3] This strengthened ties even further.

Ally in World War I
After having received territorial commitments in tobacco-rich Macedonia from the Berlin and Vienna governments, Bulgaria entered the First World War on October 14,1915 on the side of the Central Powers and participated in its new allies’ Serbian campaign. The intervention forces were able to conquer the country rather quickly.[4] In addition to the successful 1916/17 Romanian campaign, the Bulgarian army’s main task was to tie down Entente soldiers on the Macedonian front, stretching from Albania to what is today Northern Macedonia and close to the borders of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, the Entente had dispatched around 300.000 soldiers to Greece to attack the Central Powers in the Balkans.[5] After years of battles that claimed heavy losses, Bulgaria’s finance minister at the time traveled to Salonika in September 1918 and negotiated an armistice with representatives of the Entente. Overall, during the First World War, Bulgaria lost nearly 20 percent of its males, which is about 10 percent of its total population.

Political Exiles
In the fall of 1918, with the end of combat in large areas of Europe, leading Bulgarian politicians fled to Germany in exile. On October 3, 1918, Ferdinand I fled to the German Reich by train. The former czar settled in Coburg, where he regularly attended the Bayreuther Festival and became a member of the German Academy of Natural Sciences, Leopoldina. His son Boris III took the throne; Bulgaria continued to be ruled by the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Vassil Radoslavov, who had served as Bulgaria’s Prime Minister, initially from 1886 to 1887 and then again from 1913 to 1918, also fled into exile to Germany, where he lived for the rest of his life, receiving a German pension.[6] In addition, Nikola Shekov, the Commander and Chief of the Bulgarian army from 1915 – 1918, spent also a couple of years in German exile following the armistice.

Immediately following World War I, Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg recorded their interpretations of the course of the war in books they had authored. At the head of military command, both had de facto ruled the German Reich as military dictators from 1916 to 1918.[7] Ludendorff declared in his work, entitled “Meine Kriegserinnerungen” (“My War Memories”) published already in 1919, that the top military command had not been able “to heed every call for help” and in the course of the war, had called for “Bulgaria to also do something, or we would be beyond help.”[8] Hindenburg, for his part, wrote in 1920, disparagingly, “the Bulgarians” had allegedly “left the fighting up to” the Germans.[9] Leading representatives of the German right ignored Bulgarian victims of World War I and attributed to them partial responsibility for the Central Powers’ defeat.

Temporary Alienation
Immediately following the end of World War I, experts in the German foreign ministry judged the situation in Southeast Europe to mean that Germany would temporarily have no way of maintaining its traditional influence in Bulgaria. Instead, Berlin should focus on long-term options, as well as cultural contacts, to again strengthen its position.[10] For the moment, the Netherlands was standing in as diplomatic representative for German interests in Bulgaria.[11] In 1919, the national revolutionary agrarian Aleksandar Stamboliyski came to power in Sofia. He set the accent on a sharp dissociation from Germany, even though, like so many of Bulgaria’s top politicians at the time, he too had studied in Halle and in Munich.

Modeled after German Right-Wingers
Following World War I, the greater Bulgaria-oriented rebel and terror organization, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), had taken direct control of the Bulgarian area of Macedonia. In this region – also known as Pirin Macedonia – the IMRO was quasi a “state within the state.”[12] Petritsch, close to the border with Greece, served as the capital. At the time, the IMRO was comprised of 9,000 paramilitary personnel. Pirin Macedonia’s main export item, and therefore the main source of revenue for this secessionist region had been tobacco export.[13] Segments of the German right, looked up to Bulgaria due to IMRO’s violent actions in the 1920s, because – unlike the allegedly “timid” politicians in Berlin – the Bulgarian politicians were resisting the “Paris Dictate” and were taking action with arms in hand against the borders set by the peace treaties.[14] In the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Bulgaria was forced to relinquish access to the Aegean Sea and the areas of Macedonia and Dobruja it had conquered.

Return through Trade
In spite of the initial political alienation in the immediate aftermath of World War I, German companies were able to rapidly regain a foothold in Bulgaria. Already in 1922, the majority of Bulgaria’s imports were from Germany.[15] The Weimar Republic was also gradually growing in importance as a destination for that Balkan country’s exports. At the beginning of the 1920s, German enterprises began taking over many of the economic positions that had previously been held by Austro-Hungarian companies prior to World War I. They had reaped handsome profits even in completely new fields of business. Following its founding, in 1927, Bulgaria’s first Airlines, Bunavad, acquired its first plane from the German company Junkers.

German-Bulgarian relations continued to intensify during the 1930s – even up to collaboration during World War II. german-foreign-policy.com will soon report.

For more information on this theme, as well as on the close cooperation between the CDU/CSU and former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his GERB Party, see Deutschlands Traditionspartner.

[1] Hans-Joachim Hoppe: Bulgarien – Hitlers eigenwilliger Verbündeter: Eine Fallstudie zur nationalsozialistischen Südosteuropapolitik, Stuttgart 1979, S. 24.
[2] Adam Tooze/Martin Ivanov: Disciplining the ‚black sheep of the Balkans‘: financial supervision and sovereignty in Bulgaria, 1902–38, in: The Economic History Review, Jg. 64 (2011), Nr. 1, S. 30–51 (hier: S. 34).
[3] Mary C. Neuburger: Balkan Smoke – Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria, Ithaca (NY)/London 2013, S. 74.
[4] Richard C. Hall: Bulgaria in the First World War, in: The Historian, Jg. 73 (2011), Nr. 2, S. 300–315 (hier: S. 304).
[5] Ebenda, S. 315.
[6] R. J. Crampton: Bulgaria, Oxford/New York (NY) 2007, S. 218.
[7] Sebastian Haffner: Die deutsche Revolution 1918/1919, Berlin 2002, S. 19/20.
[8] Erich Ludendorff: Meine Kriegserinnerungen, Berlin 1919, S. 577.
[9] Paul von Hindenburg: Aus meinem Leben, Leipzig 1920, S. 371.
[10] David X. Noack: Germany’s Influence along the Black Sea Rim in the Wake of the First World War: Official German Foreign Policy Views on the Black Sea Region in the “Shadow of Versailles,” November 1918 – March 1921, in: Sorin Arhire/Tudor Ro?u (Hgg.): The Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) and Its Aftermath: Settlements, Problems and Perceptions, Newcastle upon Tyne 2020, S. 133–158 (hier: S. 140).
[11] Hoppe: Bulgarien – Hitlers eigenwilliger Verbündeter, S. 26.
[12] Andrew Rossos: The British Foreign Office and Macedonian National Identity, 1918–1941, in: Slavic Review, Jg. 53 (1994), Nr. 2, S. 369–394 (hier: S. 374).
[13] Neuburger: Balkan Smoke, S. 122.
[14] Stefan Troebst: Von den „Preußen des Balkans“ zum „vergessenen Volk“: Das deutsche Bulgarien-Bild, in: Europa Regional, Jg. 11 (2003), Nr. 3, S. 120–125 (hier: S. 121).
[15] Klaus Thörner: »Der ganze Südosten ist unser Hinterland« – Deutsche Südosteuropapläne von 1840 bis 1945, Freiburg 2008, S. 322.


Abkhazia’s cold relationship with Central Asia

neweasterneurope.eu, 2022/08/29

The para-state of Abkhazia has made a concerted effort over the years to increase its international recognition. Despite this, nearby Central Asia has failed to respond in any meaningful way to this campaign. Overall, the region’s approach to Sukhumi continues to be rather arbitrary in nature.

When violence erupted in Kazakhstan in January 2022, the current Abkhaz President Aslan Bzhania published a statement in which he expressed support for both the Kazakh government and CSTO intervention. A leading Abkhaz politician commenting on the situation in a Central Asian state naturally came as a surprise to many in the region and beyond.
Abkhazia and the post-Soviet Central Asian states share many similarities. Both areas were part of the Soviet Union and were largely reluctant to accept the state’s dissolution. Today, Abkhazia and several Central Asian states are often considered Russia’s backyard. Moscow has troops stationed in Abkhazia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. While the three Central Asian states are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, Abkhazia is bound to Russia by the 2014 Treaty of Alliance and Strategic Partnership. Whereas Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Russo-Abkhaz Alliance Treaty binds the largely unrecognised state’s trade laws to those of the EAEU. Thus, Abkhazia is de facto associated with the organisation. Even though there exists a foundation for cooperation, both Abkhazia and Central Asia still seem reluctant to collaborate.
Abkhazia declared independence in 1992. The first UN member state that recognised it was Russia in 2008. Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Pacific island states of Nauru, Vanuatu and Tuvalu soon followed suit. Sukhumi experienced some setbacks when the last two states withdrew recognition in 2013 and 2014. The Russian government seemed embarrassed by this development as it had invested a large amount of aid in its campaign to promote recognition of Abkhazia. However, western pressure on Caribbean and Pacific states has curbed wider recognition of Abkhazia. As a result, Moscow seems to have stopped investing any more resources in this recognition project. One reason for this might be the financial situation in Russia, which turned dire following the growing war in Ukraine that started in 2014. The sanctions of many western states against Russia plunged the country into an economic crisis.
Interestingly, the weakening of the Russian economy as a result of western sanctions led to a rapprochement between Abkhazia and the European Union. Due to the weaker Russian rouble (Abkhazia’s official currency), Abkhaz trade with the EU grew stronger. In 2017, Abkhaz and EU officials even began talking about trade issues. After a decade of not being on speaking terms, Brussels and Sukhumi started to somewhat open up to each other.
A new Abkhaz diplomatic campaign subsequently started to strengthen relations with the outside world. Abkhaz ministers and vice-ministers have travelled to all the countries that have offered recognition – even the tiny republic of Nauru in the Pacific. They also visited a wide range of countries that do not recognise the small state, including China, Italy, Turkey and Israel. Furthermore, Abkhaz politicians have met with officials from South Africa, Jordan and El Salvador. Additionally, the Abkhaz foreign ministry has substantially increased the sending of diplomatic notes to other countries, such as Egypt, France, Guatemala and Sri Lanka. These notes serve the purpose of showing the world that Abkhazia is an independent actor in the international arena. All these activities reached their peak in 2017 and decreased significantly in subsequent years. The beginning of the pandemic also put a halt to most of the trips made by Abkhaz diplomats, ministers and the head of state.
A strange absence
While all these diplomatic activities cover regions from all over the world, Central Asia is completely overlooked. No Abkhaz member of government travelled to Central Asia, or met any diplomat or officials from the region. There were some opportunities as representatives regularly travel to Moscow. For example, when several heads of state met for the 2020 Moscow Victory Day Parade, the President of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhania could be seen standing next to the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Despite this, Bzhania did not meet with any of the Central Asian presidents or ministers for political talks. Since the beginning of the surge in diplomatic activities in 2014, no diplomatic notes have been sent from Sukhumi to any of the Central Asian states.
This absence or even avoidance of any diplomatic interaction seems strange since there are economic relations between Abkhazia and several of the Central Asian states. In the first half of the last decade, about 10,000 guest workers received working visas for Abkhazia – most of them from CIS countries. These guest workers originated mostly from Central Asia. When Russia tightened its border crossing rules in 2013, several hundred Central Asian workers were stranded in Abkhazia. After the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, many governments tried to repatriate their citizens from all over the world and Uzbekistan was no exception. The Uzbek consulate in Rostov-on-Don and the embassy in Moscow received appeals from around 400 Uzbek guest workers in Abkhazia, who wanted to travel home. Since the government in Tashkent does not recognise Sukhumi, the Uzbek representatives negotiated with Russian government officials, who then spoke with their Abkhaz counterparts. After Uzbekistan Airways charter flights repatriated several hundred guest workers from Sochi (close to the Abkhaz-Russian border), Tashkent’s foreign ministry issued a press statement. This was the first and last time that the foreign ministry has ever mentioned Abkhazia. While there were about 400 Uzbek guest workers in Abkhazia only two years ago, it is not publicly known how many Kyrgyz and Tajik workers regularly resided and worked in the de facto state before the pandemic. While several hundred guest workers regularly travel back and forth between Abkhazia and Central Asia, trade remains minimal. According to statistics from the Abkhaz Chamber of Commerce, the area’s largest import partners include Russia, Turkey, Italy, China and Japan.
Even while trade is minimal, formal or even informal contacts between Abkhazia and Central Asia could prove to be important for Sukhumi. Back in 2008-09, when Abkhazia experienced its diplomatic breakthrough, the Central Asian states initially took different approaches. Government officials from Kazakhstan voiced support for Russia as a matter of principle but outright rejected the idea of recognising the de facto Caucasus republic, comparing Abkhazia with the former Serbian region of Kosovo. The Tajik president, Emomali Rahmon, expressed his support for Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia on national TV. However, his country subsequently did not recognise Abkhazia. Uzbek and Kyrgyz representatives adopted a “wait and see” approach but did not grant diplomatic recognition in the long run. It is not known if there have been any public statements by Turkmen officials concerning the Abkhazia question. While there were some initial sympathies for Abkhazia among Central Asia’s leading politicians, no interaction followed.
Obscured relations
The reason for this does not lie in their general aversion to de facto states, as the positions of Central Asian governments vary widely from case to case. By the early 1990s, all of these countries had recognised the State of Palestine. This country has limited territory but is still accepted by two-thirds of global states and is even an observer at the UN General Assembly. Similarly, the Vatican City is recognised by all Central Asian states. Three of the post-Soviet states additionally recognised the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a unique sovereign entity with nearly no territory that is currently led by a Canadian lawyer. Another example is offered by Northern Cyprus. Kazakh officials declined to recognise the Turkish para-state as early as 1992. However, the Economic Cooperation Organisation, which has included all of the Central Asian states since 1992, granted Northern Cyprus observer status in 2012. The so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus even has a representative office in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek. Another example can be seen regarding Kosovo. When this para-state declared independence in 2008, officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan outright rejected the idea of recognition. Representatives from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan waited to make their move, but their countries ultimately did not recognise the former Serbian province either. Similarly, Western Sahara, which is recognised by many states in Africa and Latin America, was also not granted recognition by any Central Asian state. The Republic of China or Taiwan also had no chance. In 1990, the country allowed trade with the Soviet Union for the first time. Despite this, Taipei decided to concentrate its foreign policy efforts on the European republics. In 1993, Taipei opened an office in Moscow but none in Central Asia. All in all, there is no uniform Central Asian approach when it comes to de facto states. In the case of Abkhazia, the motivation behind this lack of recognition, or even any official connections, seems arbitrary.
One reason for the cold relationship between Abkhazia and Central Asia is China’s influence in the region. In 2008, the Russian government lobbied for Abkhazia’s recognition at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Dushanbe. Despite this, then Chinese President Hu Jintao played a pivotal role in resisting wider recognition among the member states. Beijing vehemently opposes separatism and the SCO served as an adequate forum to reject Abkhazia’s recognition, since this international organisation is directed against separatism. Another reason for the absence of relations between Abkhazia and the Central Asian states is the strong influence of the West in the region. With Switzerland Tajikistan’s main export partner, the United Kingdom as Kyrgyzstan’s and Italy as one of Kazakhstan’s two main export partners, Central Asia hardly can be considered “Russia’s backyard” in economic terms. Quite the contrary, western economic influence in the region is still very robust. Western states, especially NATO nations, are known to threaten small states from Belarus to the Dominican Republic should they think about recognising Abkhazia. Given the strong economic and political influence of western states in Central Asia, any recognition by those states remains highly unlikely.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that Abkhazia’s economy is separated from its large Russian partner. While Tatarstan’s government serves as a bridge for Russian enterprises and influence in the region, few Russian companies would profit from possible Abkhaz trade with the Central Asian states. Since Russia would gain little from a strengthening of Abkhaz-Central Asian relations, Moscow does not seem very keen on supporting Abkhazia’s role in the region.
It can be concluded that Abkhazia suffers from a rare convergence of western and Chinese interests in Central Asia. Furthermore, Russia – the country’s patron state – has lost interest in promoting possible recognition among the Central Asian states. Additionally, Moscow cannot profit from Abkhaz diplomatic relations or trade with the Central Asian states and regional politicians themselves have shown little interest in furthering relations with Abkhazia. Thus, despite having many things in common, Abkhazia and the Central Asian states have only minimal relations with each other. Meanwhile, Abkhaz diplomats travel regularly to the Middle East, Western Europe and Latin America. The cold relations with Central Asia look set to last.


Between West and East*

german-foreign-policy.com, 2021/07/13

Pro-EU party won parliamentary election in the Republic of Moldova. Berlin openly intervened in election campaign.

The party of Berlin-favored neoliberal President Maia Sandu, has won last Sunday’s parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova. According to preliminary election results, with around 52 percent of the votes, the EU-oriented Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) beat the more Russia leaning Socialists, led by former President Igor Dodon. Berlin had openly intervened in the election campaign. Sandu, PAS‘ former leader and its best-known representative to date, had been received in Germany’s capital also by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. German support for her and her party had recently even included media publications aimed at influencing public opinion in that southeastern European country. For years already, Sandu and PAS have been sponsored by the German government and German foundations seeking to gain the upper hand in the power struggle with Moscow over Moldova. In this constant struggle, the pro-EU faction around Sandu is now providing the president and the largest faction in the parliament.

Compromise of the Great Powers

Following a major state crisis in the summer of 2019 and two intermittent parallel governments, the pro-Russian Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the pro-EU Liberal Conservatives (ACUM) formed a coalition government – through mediation by ambassadors of foreign powers.[1] Former World Bank official, Maia Sandu, was given the post of prime minister in Chi?in?u. One of her few visits abroad took her to Germany, where she also met with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation.[2] Merkel declared that Berlin supports Sandu’s envisioned „reforms wholeheartedly.“[3] However, having lost a vote of confidence, Sandu stepped down already in November 2019. She declared that there was „a great risk that Moldova would now again lose the support of international donors.“[4]

Germany’s Favorite

Shortly before the 2016 presidential elections – which, at the time, she had lost to the Socialist candidate Igor Dodon – Chancellor Merkel had already met with Sandu, thus demonstrating her support for the neoliberal politician.[5] The European People’s Party (EPP), wherein the CDU plays a dominant role, had dispatched staff to Moldova to help Sandu’s election campaign, even though Sandu’s Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) is not a member of the EPP. On the eve of the elections, the EPP published a press release stating that Maia Sandu „is the change Moldova needs.“[6]

Shift toward Moscow

In November 2019, Sandu was succeeded as Prime Minister by non-partisan Ion Chicu, whose cabinet was dominated by the Socialists. His first foreign visit took him to Moscow. On this occasion, the Russian government offered the Republic of Moldova a low-interest loan of US $500 million.[7] Contrary to Sandu’s prediction, the new Moldovan government quickly found donors – albeit other than in the West. Despite improved relations with Moscow, the new government in Chi?in?u sent cooperative signals to Germany and appointed Moldova’s former ambassador to Berlin as its new foreign minister.[8] A Republic of Moldova under strong Russian influence and with Germany playing a junior role – was the idea that had already been discussed between Chancellor Merkel and the Russian President at the time Medvedev a decade ago.[9]

Surprising Election Victory

Nevertheless, pro-Russian politicians had lost massive popular support in the course of 2020. Prime Minister Chicu’s government resigned in December 2020, due to its mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, former Prime Minister Sandu won the presidential elections, at the end of 2020. A quarter of her votes came from abroad – from Moldovans, who had emigrated to earn their living in more prosperous countries.[10] In keeping with her ties, the new President Sandu immediately began harvesting advance praise from the Christian Democrat milieu. According to the office manager of the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Chi?in?u, she „credibly and courageously embodies a democratic and constitutional change.“[11] However there is quite a gap between how Sandu is portrayed in the West, and her actual policies at home.

On the Fringes of Constitutionality

Even though the Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary Republic, after her victory in late 2020, Sandu, the newly elected president, held the opinion that her election mandate provided her, as president, the right to dissolve parliament. However, since in Moldova that is only permitted, when the government had not been able to function for three months, Sandu thwarted the Socialists‘ efforts to form a new government. A critical observer of the political situation in Moldova characterized her maneuvers as placing her „mandate from winning the presidential elections, above the constitutionality of her actions,“ rather than „respecting the rule of law and subordinating her mandate to it.“[12]

Vaccine Diplomacy

The vaccination campaign to fight Covid-19 has caused the pro-EU forces a new setback in the constant struggle between the west-oriented and the east-oriented factions in Moldova. As was already noted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) back in May, in the arena of vaccine diplomacy, the EU „is less present than other powers.“[13] This is also the case in the Republic of Moldova. In February 2021, the country initially received only 21,600 doses of vaccine from Romania. In March, a few thousand doses more came from the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program of the WHO. During the same month, Moldova was delivered 2,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine – as a donation from the United Arab Emirates – and another 50,000 doses from Romania. In April the country received its first commitments for larger deliveries of vaccines from Russia and China. Both countries made known that they had donated a total of 330,000 doses of vaccines to the republic.[14] President Sandu’s reaction was to ask the German government for help. Germany’s ministry of defense responded with 28 truckloads of gloves, masks, respirators and other relief supplies, that the German ambassador presented to the president in a high-profile ceremony.[15] However, so far, Germany has not delivered any vaccines, which once again was a setback for the EU countries in the Moldovan vaccination campaign. Washington has announced that it intends to deliver 500,000 doses of vaccines to outdo the competition. The first 150,000 were due to arrive in Chi?in?u yesterday.[16]

Renewed Intervention

Following Sandu’s tactical maneuver to thwart the creation of a socialist government in Chi?in?u, Moldova’s Constitutional Court ruled on April 15, that new elections must be held and set the date for last Sunday. Again, leading German politicians openly took positions in the Moldovan election campaign. Sandu again traveled to Germany and was received by Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) and Norbert Lammert, Chair of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.[17] In addition, a Moldovan intelligence service internal paper and analysis was leaked to the tabloid „Bild“ by the German ministry of the interior, under the direction of Horst Seehofer (CSU). The documents described alleged Russian influence operations in Moldova that are said to have been thwarted by EU intelligence services.[18] The allegations cannot be verified. However, they certainly had an impact on the Moldovan elections – an example of how Germany is doing, what it constantly accuses its adversaries of doing: intervening in the domestic affairs of foreign nations.

[1] See also New Government, Old Acquaintances.
[2] Jan Philipp Wölbern: „Die Bürgerinnen und Bürger in der Moldau wollen Reformen“. kas.de 20.05.2021.
[3] Reformen „aus ganzem Herzen“ unterstützen. bundesregierung.de 16.07.2019.
[4] Reinhard Veser: Mit Staatsanwälten spielt man nicht. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.11.2019.
[5] See also Setback for Berlin.
[6] EPP Presidency: Maia Sandu is the change Moldova needs (EN+RO). epp.eu 21.10.2016.
[7] Kamil Calus: A pseudo-multi-vector policy. Moldova under the socialists. osw.waw.pl/en/ 28.02.2020.
[8] Vladimir Socor: Moldova’s Leftist President Moving Steadily Toward the Political Center (Part One). jamestown.org 13.02.2020.
[9] See also Ein Testlauf für Eurasien (II).
[10] Kamil Ca?us: Maia Sandu wins the presidential election in Moldova. osw.waw.pl/en/ 16.11.2020.
[11] Martin Sieg: Parlamentsauflösung in der Republik Moldau. Präsidentin Sandu setzt Neuwahl durch. Länderbericht der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, April 2021.
[12] Florian Kellermann: Moldau kämpft gegen Korruption und Corona. deutschlandfunk.de 06.04.2021.
[13] See also „The EU’s Vaccine Apartheid“.
[14] Vaccination with Russian Sputnik V begins in Moldova. health ministry reports, tass.com 04.05.2021. China a confirmat acordarea Republicii Moldova a 150 de mii de doze de vaccin în calitate de ajutor umanitar. tv8.md 22.04.2021.
[15] Corona-Hilfe für die Republik Moldau. bundeswehr.de 14.06.2021.
[16] Stephen McGrath: U.S. Donates 500,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses to Moldova. time.com 10.07.2021.
[17] Jan Philipp Wölbern: „Die Bürgerinnen und Bürger in der Moldau wollen Reformen“. kas.de 20.05.2021.
[18] Julian Röpcke: Geheimdienst enthüllt die miesen Tricks – So könnte Putin die Bundestagswahl sabotieren. Bild 22.06.2021.


The Limits of American Influence*
german-foreign-policy.com, 2010/04/26
Since the change of government in Kyrgyzstan, Berlin has again been seeking to win influence for the EU in Bishkek, to reinforce Europe’s standing vis à vis the United States. The CDU affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation is calling on Brussels to engage itself „more energetically than it has in the past“ to project its interests in Central Asia. Berlin is counting on closer cooperation with the recently installed provisional Kyrgyz government – a move that the USA and some of the EU member states frown upon. The German government’s human rights commissioner declared that he expects Washington to „rally to our political signal“. Over the past few years, the United States had predominated western policy in relation to Kyrgyzstan, where it maintains a strategically important military base, which, at the moment, is mainly being used for logistic supplies to Afghanistan but is also in a position to support subversive activities in the People’s Republic of China. But Washington lost influence when the president it had supported was forced to flee into exile. Berlin is hoping to step in and reinforce its influence in Bishkek. Foreign Power Struggles The current disputes in Kyrgyzstan are foreign power struggles. Over the past few years the recently overthrown President Kurmanbek Bakiyev had been supported by the West, particularly the United States, which had opened his path to power back in 2005.[1] On the other hand, observers see not only angry protest demonstrations behind the overthrow of this increasingly authoritarian president but also the hand of the Russian secret service.[2] As a matter of fact, the incumbent President of the Provisional Government, Roza Otunbayeva, had already described Russia as a „strategic partner and ally“.[3] And Moscow recognized the provisional government immediately, whereas the West, and particularly the USA, is still reluctant. The EU needs „a clear idea of what really happened, who is responsible“ says the EU Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton, last week,[4] and demanded of the Provisional Government in Bishkek that it needs to „commit to a clear plan for how to return to constitutional and democratic order and the rule of law“. Own Interests Berlin, on the other hand, is already barging forward, calling for cooperation with the provisional government. As the Human Rights Commissioner of the German government, Markus Loening (FDP), demanded, the EU Foreign Minister should „clearly insure its support“ to the provisional government following the Kyrgystan debate on Monday (26.04.2010).[5] At the same time, Berlin is claiming a more prominent role in the formation of Western policy in relationship to Central Asia. Loening „expects“ the USA „to rally to our political signal“. Preceding this statement, a consensus had been reached between the German Foreign and Development Ministries with the party-affiliated foundations that have offices in Bishkek. These foundations expressed the feeling that the EU should defend its position. „The overthrow of the Bakiyev regime“ shows „clearly the limits of American influence in Central Asia,“ says the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation. It is „therefore up to the European Union to pursue its own interests more energetically than it has in the past – also in the American interest.“[6] For this, „a better understanding must be reached with Russia, which still plays a key role in the stability in the Central Asian nations.“ In its attempts to win influence, Germany can benefit from the fact that it not only has a close relationship with Moscow,[7] but also that it is the only EU nation with an embassy in Bishkek. Military Base Western objectives in Kyrgyzstan can clearly be seen in US strivings for a military presence. Washington maintains an airbase at the Manas Airport, in the vicinity of Bishkek, over which it furnishes 20 percent of its logistical supplies to Afghanistan. Last year alone, 460,000 US soldiers passed through this base as a stopover on their way to or from Afghanistan. The airbase is a subject of controversy. The cost of the USA’s lease – destined particularly to benefit the Bakiyev clan – was recently raised substantially. The supreme commander for the regional US Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, did not have a meeting with Bakiyev until March 17. It was said that the US government would like to pay US $5.5 million for a NATO „anti-terrorism center“ to be set up in the southern Kyrgyz province of Batken. Moscow opposes this steady Western incursion into its traditional Central Asian sphere of influence. Western military bases are particularly unwanted by the Russian government. China is also skeptically observing the Western military activities taking place in Kyrgyzstan, given the fact that they are taking place in the vicinity of the Western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where secessionists are active against the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China. Military Cooperation A NATO „anti terrorist center“ in Batken would also provide an opportunity for the NATO member Germany to have a direct military presence, which is why Berlin has, for years, been working with the Kyrgyz military – in close coordination with the USA. For example, the German/USA George C. Marshall Center and the German Defense Ministry invited Kyrgyz parliamentarians to visit Berlin in 2006 to discuss „parliamentary control of security forces.“[8] Two years later, the Marshall Center put on a workshop in Bishkek with the participation of a retired German major general. The Marshall Center had invited assistants working in the Kyrgyz Defense, Foreign and interior Ministries as well as from the border troops and the National Guard. Then finally in February 2009, the Kyrgyz Marshall alumni of the three ministries set up a round-table in Bishkek. Uyghur Secessionists Military presence in Kyrgyzstan is not only considered significant because the south of the country is increasingly being used for the transit, retreat and recruitment of militant Islamists. In Kyrgyzstan there is a Uyghur minority numbering into the tens of thousands, some of whom have close ties to the Uyghur separatists in the Western Chinese Xinjiang province. At the beginning of this decade, the People’s Republic of China initiated military cooperation with Kyrgyzstan to better combat the Uyghur separatists. From the time the overthrown President Bakiyev took office in 2005, Beijing was speculating on the intensification of infiltration of secessionists into Xinjiang province from Kyrgyzstan. From China’s perspective Kyrgyzstan’s potential for destabilization resides also in the fact that some 100,000 people in Xinjiang speak Kyrgyz. Also significant is the fact that the „World Congress of the Uyghurs“ has a representation in Kyrgyzstan. This „World Congress of the Uyghurs“, classified by China as a terrorist organization, maintains one of its headquarters in Munich with the toleration and the active support from various German instances.[9] Exclusive Means of Influence Alongside its interventions within the framework of the West’s Central Asia Policy, Berlin is insuring an exclusive means of exercising influence through its „Germandom“ policy. There are some 10,000 German-speaking Kyrgyz, to whom Berlin is establishing close ties and is manipulating politically. For example, Berlin is supporting the „People’s Council of Germans in Kyrgyzstan“ with language courses, advanced training, cultural propositions as well as social and humanitarian aid. The „People’s Council“ is also a member of the „Federal Union of European Nationalities“ (FUEN), which, supported with government funding, is being directed from Germany.[10] The meeting place for the German-speaking Kyrgyz is Jalalabad, Southern Kyrgyzstan, at the eastern end of the Fergana Valley, one of the most turbulent regions of Central Asia. The Islamist organizations of the region are under close observation of Western powers. [1] Traum vom Frühling; www.spiegel.de 21.11.2005 [2] Richard M. Bennett: Old habits die hard in Kyrgyzstan; www.atimes.com 13.04.2010 [3] Drei-Tages-Revolution in Kirgistan; Länderbericht der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung 09.04.2010 [4] EU-Hilfe für Kirgistan nur bei demokratischer Entwicklung des Landes – Ashton; RIA Novosti 21.04.2010 [5] „Europa sollte sagen: Wir finden das gut!“; www.fr-online.de 23.04.2010 [6] Drei-Tages-Revolution in Kirgistan; Länderbericht der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung 09.04.2010 [7] see also Keine Angst vor Moskau!, A Question of Orientation and Der Sinn der Aussöhnung [8] Konferenz zentralasiatischer Parlamentarier; www.bundeswehr.de [9] see also The Future of „East-Turkestan“ and Alliance against Beijing [10] see also Hintergrundbericht: Die Föderalistische Union Europäischer Volksgruppen


East Ukraine – A „de Facto Nation“*
german-foreign-policy.com, 2009/12/01
German military circles are debating NATO’s continued eastward expansion and the partitioning of the Ukraine. As a former advisor in the Amt für Studien und Übungen (Bureau for Research and Training) of the German Bundeswehr writes, the question of expanding the western war alliance to the territory of the Ukraine is still on the table. If this step is taken, „probably only the western Ukraine“ will join NATO. The „eastern Ukraine“ would „in this case, become independent or a de facto nation like Abkhazia.“ The author, a lieutenant colonel of the reserves, presented his ideas in a military magazine, embedding them in a retrospective on the entire past twenty years of NATO’s eastward expansion. According to the author, a „cordon sanitaire“ separating this war alliance from Russia, conceded by the allies of World War II to the Soviet Union, has, for the most part, been absorbed into NATO, essentially crossing every „red line“ drawn by Moscow. According to the author, Russia finds itself on a historical defensive. Only Moscow’s 1989 project of winning security for itself through an axis with Berlin, has a chance of succeeding, says the author. Cordon Sanitaire The author, Heinz Brill, whose analysis was published recently in an Austrian military journal,[1] begins his paper with a retrospective on NATO’s early eastward expansion in 1990. Brill, who worked for many years as director of research in the Central Research and Study section of the Bureau for Research and Training of the Bundeswehr, recalls, that the Soviet Union had only agreed to the annexation of the German Democratic Republic by the Federal Republic of Germany under the condition that the five new federal lands of East Germany not be used by NATO. „Our position was of a long-term perspective“ writes the Soviet President at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev in his memoirs. The countries lying between the now larger Germany and Russia, should remain neutral, forming a „cordon sanitaire“, a security zone between Russia and the west.[2] According to Brill, in light of a „strategic position, which presupposed a stable and irreversible cooperation between the Soviet Union and Germany,“ NATO’s territorial expansion to the GDR seemed acceptable to Moscow. Eastward Expansion Brill describes how, in violation of the 1990 accords, the west expanded step by step eastward. With NATO’s second eastward expansion in 1999 (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland) and its third in 2004 (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Rumania, Slovakia and Slovenia), the East European „cordon sanitaire“ melted away almost completely. Since then, according to Brill, „safeguarding the remaining – or new East European ‚cordon sanitaire'“ (Belarus, the Ukraine, Russia’s exclave, Kaliningrad and „a few Caucasus republics“), has become Moscow’s „absolute priority.“ After all, with NATO’s 2004 expansion, the „Baltic Sea and the Black Sea have become NATO maritime regions“ as well as „all of the ‚red lines‘ (…) have been crossed by the West.“ All in all, „a turning point has been imposed on [Russia’s] nearly 300 year policy of westward and southward expansion“ which „has been part of the basis of Russian state doctrine since Peter the Great.“ Made in Germany Brill credits Germany with the first impulse for NATO’s eastward expansion. In March 1993, Bonn’s Minister of Defense at the time, Volker Ruehe, was the first to publicly declare that the war alliance should be expanded to include several East European nations, says Brill. At the time, Washington reacted very skeptically to the German proposal. The policy of eastward expansion was „Made in Germany“. Over the ensuing years, the US has adapted its strategy accordingly. Today, according to the Lt. Col. of the reserves, a continued NATO eastward expansion has become „part of the US global strategy in the struggle for Eurasia“, which, on the other hand, has also led to friction with Berlin. Differences of opinion first became public at the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, Brill explains. The USA had campaigned for an eastward expansion to include the Ukraine and Georgia, but was defeated because of Germany. Berlin believes, in the meantime, that through a mediator role between Moscow and Washington it can have more influence, an assessment that seems to have been borne out in the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008. Brill sees this war as a „test case“ for the collision of the two spheres of influence. Moscow proved that it is not going to accept every violation of its „red line.“ Like Abkhazia Brill is openly comparing the conflict between Russia and the West to the “Great Game” conflict in the late 19th and early 20th century between Great Britain and Russia. Today the focus is particularly on “the oil fields in the Caspian region and secure transport routes.” The conflict was in no way terminated with the August 2008 war. Ukraine joining NATO is still in discussion, according to Brill. But „most likely only Western Ukraine would join,“ declared the ex-Bundeswehr expert, hinting at a possible partition of the Ukraine. He continued: ”in this case Eastern Ukraine would become independent or a de facto nation like Abkhazia.” The Austrian military magazine is supporting this concept by publishing a map that shows a “possible East-West division of the Ukraine in the case of a NATO accession.” But this map is different from those usually presented with a border being drawn between the country’s Russian speaking East and the Ukrainian speaking West, with Oblast Kirovohrad, Mykolyaiv and Odessa within the Russian sphere of influence. But Brill is claiming that all territories up to the Dnieper – including the important oil harbor cities of Odessa and Cherson – would belong to the West. Oil Harbors Odessa, with its harbor, is in fact part of the so called Euro-Asian transport corridor that the EU would like to use to transport oil from the Caspian Basin to the West. Cherson and Jushny are also situated to the west of the Dnieper – and therefore inside Brill’s “Western Ukraine”. Jushny’s oil harbor is being used to transport Georgian oil across the Black Sea to Western Europe, circumventing Russian territory. There is also an oil harbor in Cherson with a direct link to the Odessa-Brody pipeline, transporting oil from the Black Sea all the way to the Polish border. If, as in Brill’s model, the Ukraine would be partitioned along the Dnieper, all important oil harbors and the most important pipeline routes of this East European country would come under western control. This clearly highlights the material background of the partition plans of this nation.

[1] Zitate hier und im Folgenden aus: Heinz Brill: Die NATO-Osterweiterung und der Streit um Einflusssphären in Europa; Österreichische Militärische Zeitschrift 6/2009
[2] Als Cordon sanitaire wird eine Sicherheitszone von Ländern zwischen verfeindeten Staaten oder Blöcken bezeichnet.


Jubelperser for Israel
Jerusalem Post, 2009/03/05
Jubelperser (Cheering Persians) is a well-known expression in Germany, describing a group of Iranians who were hired to cheer in the crowd during the Shah’s visit in West Berlin during the year 1967. The Jubelperser escalated the situation by clubbing protesters under the eyes of the police. The same evening, the police killed a student, what led to massive student protests in West Berlin and West Germany. Today Jubelperser describes people who indiscriminatingly copy phrases and statements from other important persons, especially governments. In the article Let the Left go forward by Benjamin-Christopher Krüger and Sebastian Voigt, the federal spokespersons of the so called BAK Shalom, Krüger and the sympathizer Voigt discuss the attitude of the German left towards the State of Israel from their point of view and then advertise for the working group with the friendly name “Peace”. They say that this group within the Left Party’s youth (‘solid) “aims to fight anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism and regressive anti-capitalism”. Those are noble motives. But both do not talk about how they behave in this fight. This group often refuses discussions. An Interview proposed by the leftist newspaper junge Welt (young World) has been rejected – officially due to the newspapers attitude towards the situation in Zimbabwe. The absurdity of this argument is evident. The only “policy” of ‘solid’s working group BAK Shalom is to defame politicians who have different political positions. The BAK Shalom sees anti-Semitism at every street corner. This is the perfect way of preventing every discussion and defaming political opponents. Benjamin-Christopher Krüger once avoided a serious discussion by saying to me: “I could try to enlighten you – but I think this would not help you!” And even lying does not seem to be off limits if their trustworthiness is at stick, as they have proven lately by first accusing Norman Paech of anti-Semitism and later denying the calumniation. The Left Party does not have a single position towards the conflict in the Middle East. It is nonetheless common sense that violence is not a way of solving problems. While the Trotskyist platform marx21 still discusses its position regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a first contribution to the discussion proposed that the Palestinians and the Israelis should live in a unified democratic state. The Left Party’s spokesperson for international affairs, Wolfgang Gehrcke, tends to the solution of the Geneva Accord. The more reformist party leader Gregor Gysi is in favor of solidarity with Israel but also warned of apartheid in the Holy Land. The BAK Shalom does not present any solutions to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The executive committee of ‘solid already tried to punish the BAK Shalom because their political actions are excessive by common standards. This reflects best the status of this group within the Left Party. Also, the above-mentioned article doesn’t say how many members this group has. The party has about 76.600 members (‘solid has about 8300 members), while the working group has about 30 members. It is common sense within the left that the BAK Shalom is not leftist. BAK Shalom is a group of Jubelperser – but not cheering the Islamic Republic of Iran but the State of Israel, whatever policy is made by the Israeli government.

David Noack, born 19.12.1988 in Berlin, is student of politics and history. Also David Noack is spokesperson of the SDS.Greifswald, member of the state board of the Left Party in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and has published several articles in different media (for example www.german-foreign-policy.com).


The End of Neutrality (III)*
german-foreign-policy.com, 2008/12/04
War resisters in Switzerland are protesting against an armament project that would tie their country to the western military alliance. The project provides for the acquisition of a double-digit number of fighter aircraft worth billions. Unlike its predecessor, this new plane is to be a ground combat support aircraft and therefore can serve in NATO or EU military aggressions. Swiss soldiers are already participating in NATO’s foreign interventions, often at the side of the German Bundeswehr, for example in Kosovo and until recently also in Afghanistan. For centuries Switzerland had been neutral. In the 1990s, through cooperating with the German Bundeswehr and by joining its armed forces to the NATO „Partnership for Peace“ program, the country abdicated its neutrality. Switzerland is purchasing military hardware also in Germany, which is offering its Eurofighter for sale in the planned fighter aircraft acquisition. Western states are also training their armies in Switzerland. Just last week, a German Bundeswehr aircraft crashed while on maneuvers over Swiss territory. This was not the first time. Facilitate Affiliation Swiss war resisters are protesting against the purchase of new fighter aircraft for their country’s airforce. These planes are due to replace the current F/A-18 models that are basically suited for air-to-air combat and air policing. The focus is on surveillance and defense of the Swiss airspace. But these new fighter planes are not only to serve reconnaissance and air-to-air combat purposes but should have the capability of offensive ground combat support, according to the official criteria for the purchase. Switzerland is therefore complying with requirements set for joining NATO and the EU’s military structures. Both are preparing for or engaged in military interventions far from their own borders. „The new fighter planes would facilitate the military affiliation to NATO,“ reasons Josef Lang, member of the Swiss National Council and member of the presidium of the Group for a Switzerland without an Army (GSoA).[1] The GSoA has already collected 75,000 signatures against this armament project – and the collection continues.[2] Air Combat Training The current project to purchase new fighter aircraft is a clear indication of Switzerland’s rapprochement with the western war alliance. This rapprochement actually began in the early 1990s, when the German Bundeswehr began its cooperation with the Swiss army. Joint military maneuvers have been held since 2002. Last year, Swiss Airforce pilots trained for two weeks in air combat together with German pilots (Fighter Wing 71 „Richthofen“) in Germany. Another joint maneuver in Germany has been announced for the coming year.[3] In September 2007, the Swiss Airforce also held exercises in air combat, together with German fighter pilots, on the island of Crete.[4] Alpine Flight According to the German Airforce located in Koeln-Wahn, the exchange of maneuvers is mutual. German fighter pilots have repeatedly trained in Switzerland. Flights through high mountain valleys are a special challenge for experienced pilots because of the craggy landscape and the thermal lift that is difficult to assess. That the German Airforce is using Switzerland as a combat training ground sometimes comes to light – when one of its planes crashes. For example last year, when a German Tornado crashed into a mountain, it caused a sensation, and speculation, that the pilot was training for deployment in Afghanistan.[5] Counterinsurgency is also being carried out in a craggy landscape in Afghanistan. Another German aircraft crashed last week while engaged in combat maneuvers in the Swiss alps – a helicopter CH-53.[6] Like the Tornado, this model is also deployed in Afghanistan. Partners in War In the 1990s, Switzerland began cooperating not only with Germany, but also with NATO. In 1994, NATO demanded that all OSCE member states join a program entitled „Partnership for Peace“ (PfP), with the objective of introducing the troops of OSCE states to NATO standards and to possibly transform them into deputy NATO troops. In the meantime, ten former PfP nations have become full members of NATO while others are fighting alongside NATO in Afghanistan. The example of Malta shows that this was not inevitable. Malta rightfully recognized that PfP was endangering its neutrality and terminated its membership in 1996. But in the meantime, it has asked to rejoin. Swiss neutrality was recognized in an international accord in 1815. In 1996 Switzerland joined PfP – seven years before it became a member of the United Nations. In joining PfP, Bern engaged itself to evaluate „which armed forces and means“ Switzerland „can allocate for multinational training, maneuvers and operations.“[7] De facto, Swiss neutrality has become part of history. Foreign Deployment During the 1990s, this once neutral country extended its foreign deployment at the side of the West. Between 1996 and 2001 up to 55 soldiers (unarmed in the beginning) were deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2003 Swiss soldiers participated (armed for self-defense) in EU interventions in the former Yugoslavia – both military personnel (EUFOR) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and with police personnel (EU Police Mission Bosnia) in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as (EU Proxima) in Macedonia. But it was a novelty, for Switzerland to participate in the occupation of Kosovo, with up to 220 soldiers equipped with helicopters and armored personnel carriers, within the framework of KFOR,. Swiss troops are today still in Kosovo – „under the responsibility of the German Bundeswehr in the region of Prizren,“ according to official statements.[8] Swiss liaison officers were also stationed in Afghanistan. But when ISAF became clearly a counterinsurgency mission, they were withdrawn in March 2008.[9] Before that, Swiss soldiers had been assigned to the German Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kunduz. Well Armed Switzerland is receiving a continuous supply of German weapons for its participation in foreign military interventions at the side of the Bundeswehr. The „Leopard 2,“ produced by the German Kraus-Maffei Wegmann Company, is the Swiss army’s main battle tank. Switzerland is one of the 16 nations allowed to use this German tank. Germany is therefore regularly supplying its southern neighbor also with spare parts, as well as trucks, all-terrain and armored vehicles. The Eurofighter Consortium, a company based in Germany, is among the bidders for the current highly controversial new fighter aircraft program. Sellout Sale This program is not only provoking controversy with war resisters, but also in influential circles in Bern – because of the costs involved. According to Armasuisse, the procurement and technology center of the Swiss Federal Department of Defense, It would be possible to agree on a trimmed-down version of the program costing not more than 2,2 billions Swiss francs (around 1,4 billion Euros). Even considerations of completely renouncing on the costs of a new fighter program could recently be heard in Bern: Since Switzerland is closely cooperating with Germany and the other western states, they could also assume control over Swiss airspace. Control over one’s own airspace – hardly a nation would want to relinquish such an important element of state sovereignty. „I also could imagine an alliance with other states for the control over the airspace,“ one politician declared in Bern, „friendly partner states, like Germany, could assume control over Swiss airspace.“[10]

[1] Verteidigen deutsche Kampfjets bald die Schweiz?; Basler Zeitung 07.11.2008
[2] Und es geht doch ums Bombardieren; Medienmitteilung der GSoA vom 25.11.2008
[3] Stationierungskonzept der Luftwaffe: Runder Tisch Militärjetflugplätze; Pressemitteilung des VBS 13.10.2008
[4] Besuch von Bundesrat Schmid beim Flab-Schiessen auf Kreta; www.vbs.admin.ch
[5] see also Im Tiefflug
[6] Bundeswehrhubschrauber stürzt in der Schweiz ab; Der Westen 28.11.2008
[7] Partenariat pour la Paix. Document cadre, Bruxelles, le 10 janvier 1994
[8] Willkommen bei der SWISSCOY; www.vtg.admin.ch
[9] Schweiz zieht Militärpersonal aus Afghanistan zurück; swissinfo.ch 21.11.2007 [
10] Verteidigen deutsche Kampfjets bald die Schweiz?; Basler Zeitung 07.11.2008


Germany Into Africa
The Democrat, Ausgabe Nr. 1/2-2008
The German government is continuing its military aid to Addis Ababa one year after the Ethiopian military Invasion of Somalia. According to information from the German Defense Ministry, in spite of the war being waged by their country and in spite of the accusations of serious war crimes against their army, Ethiopian soldiers have repeatedly participated in training programmes organized by the German Bundeswehr. Aid to Ethiopia is part of Germany’s efforts to intensify her control over the continent, through the build-up of African military structures under German-European influence. To attain this objective, selected regional powers, such as Ethiopia, and regional organizations are being financed, trained and equipped. On the continental level, Berlin is strengthening the African Union’s (AU) military structures. The European Union is “by far, the most important financial contribution to the AU’s militarisation” African politicians confirm. This not only spares the EU from having to deploy its own soldiers, to secure re-source rich regions, the military influence of Berlin and Brussels also strengthens the German Position vis á vis China’s economic power in Africa.


Lever for Destabilization*
german-foreign-policy.com, 2007/09/19
Germany is supporting armed separatists in Western Iran, in their struggle against the Iranian government. In spite of repeated protests from Teheran, a leader of the Kurdish secessionist movement is continuing to recruit insurgents in Germany – in plain view of German intelligence services. The separatists are held responsible for the killing several hundred Iranian soldiers. A professor of the Bundeswehr Academy in Munich is pleading for supporting the insurgents: Iran should be weakened and „if necessary disbanded“. German aid to Kurdish insurgents is complementing German contacts to the Kurdish autonomous government in Iraq and is strengthening Berlin’s role in the framework of a possible ethnic reorganization of the entire Middle East. Plans to this effect were drawn up by the US military quite a while ago. Currently Masoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s „Kurdish Autonomous Region“, is the most aggressive proponent of Kurdish secessionism. For a long time, he has also been the contact person for German foreign policy experts, and has already met with Angela Merkel on various occasions.

Masoud Barzani, has already announced the secession of the northern Iraqi territory under his control („Iraqi Kurdistan“) and would like to expand this territory to include the three oil rich provinces of Kirkuk, Niniveh and Diyala. A referendum is planned this year in all three provinces to decide on the accession to the „Kurdish Autonomous Region“. These secessionist plans are causing serious tensions in Kirkuk, already leading to ethnic violence and terrorist attacks. If he cannot take control of Kirkuk by referendum, Masoud Barzani has already announced a civil war. Erbil The clan of Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), is in control of the northern areas of the secessionist region. As President of the Kurdish autonomous government, Barzani is also controlling the other regions of „Iraqi Kurdistan“ and since decades has had close relations with Germany. In the 1980’s, he has had vivid exchange with Franz-Josef Strauß, chairman at the time of the (Christian Democratic) CSU. In the1990’s he made contact with the government of the German federal state North Rhine Westphalia, which had financed several development projects in Northern Iraq. Important strategic military infrastructural projects (the „Barzani Road“) were being discussed at the time.[1] The former parliamentarian of North Rhine Westphalia, Siegfried Martsch (Green Party), was one of the persons contacted at the time. He then became a member of the Barzani-Clan and is today allowed to call himself „Siggi Barzani“. Martsch is director of the German branch of the official investment agency in Northern Iraq („Kurdistan Development Corporation“) and has arranged infrastructure contracts, worth millions of Euros, for German corporations. In January 2006, he represented Germany at the inauguration of the „German Cultural Centre“ in Erbil, the capital of „Iraqi Kurdistan“. Susanne Osthoff, an assistant of the German Foreign Ministry, had been helping to organize the center, until she was kidnapped a few weeks before the inauguration. She is suspected of working as an informant of the German Federal Intelligence Service, BND.[2] Kandil Mountains The Kandil Mountains, within Barzani’s sphere of influence, located in the border regions of Iraq, Iran and Turkey, are the staging areas from which the PKK separatist militia regularly launches attacks against Turkish territory. The main base of the PEJAK, the „Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan“, which is closely affiliated to the PKK, is also located in the Kandil Mountains. PEJAK is fighting the Iranian Army in western Iran. This organization, operating out of the region under the influence of Barzani, the German contact, is fighting a war for an ethnically homogenous „Kurdistan“. It is estimated that more than 300 Iranian soldiers have already been killed in this war. The German television magazine „Monitor“ reported that PEJAK Chief, Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmadi, has his headquarters in Cologne (North Rhine Westphalia), from which he recruits insurgents for the secessionist war against Iran.[3]. According to this report, in spite of repeated complaints by the Iranian government, Haji Ahmadi is allowed, without interference from German authorities, to regularly travel to his militia in Iraq. The German BND is said to have shady relations with PEJAK.[4] (The map shows the Kandil Mountains in the North of Iraq. Click here for an enlarged version.) Kurdistan According to reports, PEJAK receives aid not only from Germany but also from the USA.[5] The project of an ethnically homogenous „Kurdistan“ is in the interests both of German ethnic policy and of US strategy. The US military is considering a reorganization of the Middle East along ethnic lines. In June 2006, the US Army’s „Armed Forces Journal“ published a map drawn up by Ralph Peters, a retired soldier, with new borders corresponding to ethnic criteria for the Arab Islamic world (see german-foreign-policy.com report [6]). Among others it includes Iran, which is refusing to unconditionally submit to western hegemonic Persian Gulf policy. Teheran is already weakened by economic sanctions and is threatened with US military attacks [7]. It is confronted with a secessionist militia that is gaining strength in the northwest of the country. Under Cover Michael Wolfssohn, a professor of the Bundeswehr Academy in Munich, already last spring. explained the geopolitical logic behind the German-American support of the PEJAK. According to Wolfssohn, Iran is „multinational state“. He estimates that 49 Percent of its population is made up of „ethnic groups“ hostile to Teheran. „Iran is threatened from within“, Wolfssohn alleges and considers Kurdish separatism to be exemplary. „The Kurdish region of Iran is anxious to unite with Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as with the Kurds of Turkey and Syria.“[8] He considers ethnic secessionist movements to be an apt „lever for destabilization“ against the obnoxious government in Teheran. „This politically unstable internal situation could – and should (of course, under cover of intelligence services) – be used for western policy leverage against Iran, short of military intervention“.

[1] see also Feudale Sonderbeziehungen and (Irakisch) Kurdistan
[2] see also Rückzugsgebiet, Zum Verbleib ermutigt and Lügen
[3], [4] Terrorismus: Wie die kurdische Arbeiterpartei PKK unter den Augen von BND und Verfassungsschutz in Deutschland Rekruten anwirbt; Monitor 21.06.2007. Die PEJAK tötete im Jahre 2005 120 Angehörige der iranischen Streitkräfte; seitdem fielen ihr bereits 200 weitere Soldaten zum Opfer. Ihre Waffen bezieht die PKK-Schwesterorganisation zu großen Teilen aus Europa, Berichten zufolge unter anderem auch aus Deutschland. Als Reaktion auf die Anschläge der Separatisten marschierten iranische Einheiten Mitte August in das irakische Rückzugsgebiet der PEJAK ein. Hierbei hat der Iran die stillschweigende Duldung der irakischen Zentralregierung; auch der mit Barzani rivalisierende Bagdader Staatspräsident Talabani von der Patriotischen Union Kurdistans (PUK) soll der PEJAK abgeneigt sein.
[5] Kurdish leader seeeks U.S. help to topple regime; The Washington Times 04.08.2007
[6] see also A Dirty Little Secret, Neue Staaten and Interview mit Dr. Pierre Hillard
[7] see also Außendruck
[8] Die Zerrissenheit des Iran; Die Welt 07.03.2007

*: The German Foreign Policy-articles are translations from my German articles.

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