The “paradigm shift” in German foreign policy

A number of recent commentaries in the German press have expressed alarm over the course adopted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding the Greek debt crisis. At last week’s meeting of European Union heads of state in Brussels, Merkel dictated terms and made clear that any financial support from Europe for Greece would be linked to punitive conditions and would be forthcoming only as a last resort.

While Merkel’s stance has been hailed in a number of right-wing political commentaries and praised by Germany’s tabloid press, other commentators have noted that it represents a fundamental shift in German foreign policy with far-reaching and potentially dangerous consequences.

The latest edition of Der Spiegel magazine poses the issue with the headline: “How European is Angela Merkel? Chancellor Abandons Post-War EU policy.” Applauding the role of “Germany’s great pro-European chancellors”—the two conservatives Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl and the Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt—the magazine describes Merkel’s approach to the Greek debt crisis as a “paradigm shift” in German foreign policy, representing a fundamental break with the policies of her predecessors.

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