Angela Merkel Meets the World

At long last, Angela Merkel is Germany’s new – and first woman – Chancellor. Although continuity will remain the hallmark of foreign policy, Germany’s international engagement under Merkel will sound and feel different from that under Gerhard Schroeder’s leadership.

Schroeder came to power seven years ago representing a new generation whose formative experience was not the Cold War, European integration, and transatlantic friendship, but German unification and the restoration of national sovereignty. For him and the team that took over after Helmut Kohl’s 16-year reign, Germany had become a normal country, no different from other European heavyweights like France or Britain.

Indeed, one of Schroeder’s first major foreign-policy experiences was the EU summit of 1999, where the leaders of France and Britain played rough with the newcomer from Berlin. The lesson that Schroeder drew was to insist that Germany could no longer be taken for granted and would demand a role commensurate to its size and weight. Self-assertion became the watchword of German foreign policy.

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