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Germany

Three (German) Cheers For The Ever Underestimated Angela Merkel

Op-Ed: Germany's relative economic strength and Angela Merkel's steady leadership on the debt crisis are being lauded around the world. Now it's time that Merkel gets some overdue respect from her own citizens.

Three (German) Cheers For The Ever Underestimated Angela Merkel
Ulf Poschardt

BERLIN - The world views Germany right now with more than a little envy. The country weathered well the 2008 global economic crisis, its budget is pretty much on-track, unemployment is shrinking, and the head of government is a woman who has both the ambition and the disposition to show badly indebted countries a minimum of economic decency in bailing out the euro.

But little value is attached to these efforts in Germany. In fact, something of a grousing, even supercilious tone is to be heard in criticisms of Angela Merkel and her government. Put simply, one could speak of a basic lack of respect for the nation's chancellor even as she works tirelessly to ensure that the foundations of Germany's prosperity are not lost.

In presenting the facts to the Bundestag before leaving for Brussels, Merkel once again used an unemotional, factual tone in sharp contrast to the excitability of many experts and populists. Stoically, with just a trace of leavening humor, she presented the outlines of her approach with every effort to be as clear as possible.

The tendency of states to leave the tab for someone else to pick up must come to an end, conditions for sustainable growth have to be created, while at the same time the European Central Bank's ominous tendency to print more and more money has to be stopped, Merkel said.

The bailout plans were admirably presented by her not as some kind of wise final decision, but as a result of realistically arranged and workable compromise strategies.

Germans have to trust their chancellor – trust that she will savvily represent their interests that cannot be separated from those of Europe. There is plenty to criticize about Merkel, such as her marked preference for flying by sight. But in the present situation, it is in Germany's interest to wish her luck, endurance and perseverance.

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Photo - Bundeswehr-Fotos Wir.Dienen.Deutschland.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Paris-Berlin, Warsaw-Kyiv: Europe's Balance Of Power Will Never Be The Same

A new future is unfolding in real time, one that leaders in France, Germany and beyond could not have envisioned even a year ago.

Photo of Bundeswehr soldiers in Lest, Slovakia, with a training anti-tank missile and a G22 sniper rifle.

Bundeswehr soldiers in Lest, Slovakia, with a training anti-tank missile and a G22 sniper rifle.

Kay Nietfeld/dpa via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Quick question: do you know which country is on its way to having the largest army in Europe? The obvious answer would be France, the Continent's only nuclear power since the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and a military that has been tested in multiple foreign operations in recent years.

But the answer is about to change: if we put aside the nuclear factor, Europe's leading military will soon be that of Poland.

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This is one more direct consequence Russia's invasion of Ukraine: a close neighbor of the conflict zone, Poland is investing massively in its defense. Last year, it concluded a huge arms purchase contract with South Korea: heavy combat tanks (four times more than France), artillery, fighter jets, for 15 billion euros.

Warsaw also signed a contract last month to purchase two observation satellites from France for 500 million euros.

This former country of the Warsaw Pact, today a leading NATO member, intends to be ever more consequential in European affairs. The investments in defense are one way of doing that. Yet this is not the only impact of the war in Ukraine.

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