Gregory Feifer has an extensive feature article on German-Russian relations and the Nord Stream project at Radio Free Europe. It goes into great detail about the strong ties that Germany and Russia have built up over the last decade, but gives a very fair account of German dissenting views against the “too-special relationship” between the countries and controversy over the Nord Stream pipeline. One thing I found most interesting is the changing relationship between Germany, Russia, and the central and eastern European countries between them:
Link praised Germany’s domestically embattled foreign minister — FDP leader Guido Westerwelle, who lost the party leadership since we spoke — for seeking consensus among smaller EU members Schroeder’s government all but ignored.
That development reflects dramatic improvement in ties with the Czech Republic, Poland, and other former Soviet Bloc countries that have traditionally been among Russia’s most vocal critics, partly because trade between Germany and those countries is booming, dwarfing business with Russia.
Germany sells more to the Czech Republic alone than to Russia, while imports from the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary amount to 40 billion euros a year, compared to only 15 billion euros from Russia, including its energy.
Ties between Germany’s Central European neighbors and Russia are also slowly improving, helping shift the postcommunist dynamic of relations in Central Europe. Even attitudes toward the Nord Stream pipeline, once a lightning rod in the split between “Old” and “New” Europe, have changed.
Another curious detail is that criticism of the the German-Russian relationship in the article comes almost entirely from the Green left. I find this curious partly because it was their former party leader Joschka Fischer who served as foreign minister during Schroeder’s Ostpolitik phase, so it isn’t as if the Greens weren’t very recently implicated in building the close relationship. It is also rather striking that it is German Greens who seem most offended by the relationship that their successful anti-nuclear activism has made that much more indispensable to Germany.