Sunday, January 15, 2006

Merkel Making Her Mark

There is no doubt that Angela Merkels first months as Chancellor of Germany have been good ones.

Opinion polls have shown not only a remarkable increase in her popularity¨, but also an equally remarkable surge in confidence in the prospects of the German economy. The "Angst" of the past few years seems - at the least for the time being - to be gone.

These days she's making her mark on the wider international stage. In the last few days she has been to Washington seeing President Bush, and tomorrow she will be in Moscow seeing President Putin.

The Washington visit seems to have gone very well. She certainly did rise issues on which there are divided opinions - notably Guantanamo - but did this within the context of a strengthened relationship overall.

If the media reporting is to be believed, it was to a large extent the Iran issue that dominated the talks, although one would expect that they spanned over a rather broad area.

The talks lasted three hours - almost unique in Bush's Washington.

Moscow will be different. The girl from former GDR meets the spy from former GDR. They can converse in either German or Russian.

The basic lines of German policy will hardly change, but we are likely to see a clear distancing towards the rather naive camaraderei that characterized the Schröder years. Putin will encounter a lade of firmness.

Here, Iran is as likely to be an important subject. Merkel can give fresh messages and impressions from Washington, as well as representing the policy line agreed byt the EU3 in their discussions in Berlin a few days ago.

But we should expect also the issues of energy security to figure rather prominently. The gas dispute has had its effects on German perceptïons as well.

It's the Merkel months on the European scene.

"A Very Good Start" | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 14.01.2006