Germany’s New Power of the Purse
In recent years, Germany has emerged as a new kind of great power, not just in Europe, but on the world stage. By leveraging its economic power, using EU institutions and budgets as a force multiplier, and building international coalitions, it has significantly expanded its international influence.
BERLIN – Last week, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel interrupted his holiday on the North Sea to respond to Turkey’s jailing of a German human-rights activist. Gabriel warned German tourists about the dangers of visiting Turkey, and advised German firms to think twice before investing in a country where the authorities’ commitment to the rule of law is increasingly dubious.
This amounts to a new German policy toward Turkey, and it further confirms Germany’s status as an economic great power. Gabriel’s announcement sent shockwaves through the Turkish government, because it recalled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane in 2015. The sanctions that Russia imposed cost Turkey’s already-struggling economy $15 billion, and eventually forced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to offer a groveling apology.
Putin’s aggressive response came as no surprise. By contrast, Germany’s decision to respond in a similar fashion marks a break from its generally more accommodating diplomatic style.