Ostpolitik

Ostpolitik

Willy Brandt became Foreign Minister in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1966. He developed the policy of Ostpolitik (reconciliation between eastern and western Europe). This replaced the Hallstein Doctrine of the government led by Konrad Adenauer.

In 1969 Brandt became Chancellor of West Germany. He continued with his policy of Ostpolitik and in 1970 negotiated an agreement with the Soviet Union accepting the frontiers of Berlin. In 1971 an agreement was reached that made it easier for people in West Berlin to visit East Berlin.

As part of the policy of Ostpolitik, the Basic Treaty was signed in 1972. In this treaty the Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic committed themselves to developing normal relations on the "basis of equality, guaranteeing their mutual territorial integrity as well as the border between them, and recognizing each other's independence and sovereignty".

As a result of Ostpolitik the Federal Republic of Germany exchanged ambassadors with the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is first and foremost an effective defence alliance. It prevents potential opponents from being tempted to exert political pressure on any one of the allies through military force. But constant effort is required to maintain this defensive strength in the face of constantly advancing technical development. We realise that the commitment in Europe is a great burden on the United States.... I am afraid that the time for any significant lightening of the United States' burden has not yet come.

NATO and a policy of détente are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the existence of NATO - that is, its political weight and its readiness to defend our territory against all attacks - has shown that a policy of tensions and crises is of no avail. The weakening of NATO would reduce the possibility of a détente and lessen its effectiveness. The military deterrent has ensured the peace of Europe.... Military security and détente do not contradict, but supplement each other. Without the firm support of the alliance we cannot carry on any policy of détente. Similarly the political objective of the alliance will not be realised without an East-West détente.

It can be argued that Herr Brandt has surrendered a principle and got little in return. The East Germans, and behind them the Russians, have made only a few slight concessions in the matter of human, administrative and trading contacts across the border. But they are real concessions, whereas the reunification of Germany, short of some new world cataclysm, has become an impossible dream. Post-war international relations are difficult enough, but it is better that they should be based on present realities than on a vanished past or an imaginary future.


Ostpolitik - History

West Germany's relations with the East European states had virtually stagnated since the establishment of the Hallstein Doctrine in the mid-1950s. In 1970, in an attempt to lessen tensions in Europe, Brandt and his FDP minister for foreign affairs, Walter Scheel, agreed to negotiate with the communist bloc. For the first time since 1948, the top politicians of the FRG and the GDR held talks, with Brandt and the East German prime minister, Willi Stoph, meeting in Erfurt in East Germany and Kassel in West Germany. Although the talks produced no concrete results because Brandt refused to recognize the GDR as a sovereign state, communication lines were reopened.

After coordinating policy goals with the United States, the FRG also entered negotiations with the Soviet Union on a treaty normalizing relations, in which both countries renounced the use of force. The FRG agreed to make no territorial claims, and it recognized de facto the Oder-Neisse border and the border between the FRG and the GDR. FRG negotiators, however, insisted that such agreements did not alter the West German position on future reunification of the country and that the responsibilities of the Four Powers in Germany remained unchanged by the treaty. They also linked the signing of the treaty to a Soviet promise to open talks on normalizing the Berlin situation. After the Soviet Union had agreed to these conditions, the Treaty of Moscow was signed in August 1970. The agreement opened the road to negotiations with other countries of the Soviet bloc.

In December 1970, after ten months of complicated negotiations, the FRG and Poland signed the Treaty of Warsaw. The treaty contained essentially the same points as the Treaty of Moscow on the question of Poland's western border, the renunciation of territorial claims by the FRG, and the ongoing responsibilities of the Four Powers. In return, Poland agreed to allow ethnic Germans still in Poland to emigrate to the FRG. During the subsequent debates on the ratification of the two treaties, the CDU/CSU and part of the FDP made their consent contingent on the formulation of a strong statement by the Bundestag underscoring Germany's right to reunification in self-determination and of the Allies' responsibilities for Germany and Berlin.

Concurrent with the negotiations on the treaties of Moscow and Warsaw, the Four Powers undertook to end disagreement about the status of Berlin in talks that ultimately led to the Four Power Agreement (also known as the Quadripartite Agreement) of September 1971. The talks, which began in March 1970, got off to a difficult start because the Western Allies and the Soviet Union were deeply divided over their basic interpretation of the "status of Berlin." After they "agreed to disagree" on this point, progress was finally made, and all sides concurred that the status quo of Berlin should not be changed unilaterally.

The Soviet Union made two very important concessions: traffic to and from West Berlin would be unimpeded in the future, and the existing ties of West Berlin to the FRG were given de facto recognition. Soviet officials, however, insisted that West Berlin was not to be considered a territory belonging to the FRG and therefore was not to be governed by it. Furthermore, the Soviet Union made the conclusion of the agreement among the Four Powers contingent on the signing of the Treaty of Moscow between the FRG and the Soviet Union, which was still under negotiation. They thereby established the same linkage that the FRG had demanded, but in reverse.

The Four Power Agreement charged the governments of West Berlin and the GDR with negotiating an accord that would regulate access to and from West Berlin from the FRG and secure the right of West Berliners to visit East Berlin and the GDR. The Transit Agreement of May 1972 arranged these matters and also secured the rights of GDR citizens to visit the FRG, but only in cases of family emergency.

Following the negotiations on traffic between the FRG and the GDR, both sides recognized the feasibility of arriving at a more comprehensive treaty between the two German states. Talks began in August 1972 and culminated in December 1972 with the signing of the Basic Treaty. In the treaty, both states committed themselves to developing normal relations on the basis of equality, guaranteeing their mutual territorial integrity as well as the border between them, and recognizing each other's independence and sovereignty. They also agreed to the exchange of "permanent missions" in Bonn and East Berlin to further relations.

After the bitterly contested approval of the Basic Treaty by the SPD-FDP-controlled Bundestag in May 1973, a political decision that the CDU/CSU had warned against for decades became a reality: West Germany's de facto recognition of East Germany as a separate state. To many conservatives, the Basic Treaty represented the failure of the Hallstein Doctrine and a final blow to the possibility of Germany's reunification. Bavaria filed a suit in the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to prevent the treaty's implementation, but the court held the treaty to be compatible with the provisions of the Basic Law. As a result of the treaty, the FRG and the GDR became members of the UN in June 1973.

Among the states to the east, Czechoslovakia remained the only neighbor with which West Germany had not yet normalized diplomatic relations. Negotiations with this country proved to be considerably more difficult than those with the Soviet Union or Poland. The main obstacle was a difference in interpreting the Munich Agreement of September 1938. On the one hand, the FRG maintained that the accord itself had to be considered legally valid but that the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 had voided its provisions. Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, insisted that the accord be considered void from the very beginning. Both sides finally agreed that the accord was to be considered void, but that all legal proceedings in the occupied territory between 1938 and 1945 were to be upheld. Once this basic understanding had been reached, the treaty with Czechoslovakia, known as the Treaty of Prague, similar in content to the Treaty of Warsaw, was signed in December 1973, and diplomatic relations were established. Shortly thereafter, West Germany exchanged ambassadors with Hungary and Bulgaria.


Ostpolitik - History

Germany seems to be suddenly in a policy pickle. Almost a half century of German engagement with Russia that was supposed to have tamed Moscow’s historical impulses appears to have come to naught in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. But that engagement has left Germany (and many other Central European countries) more dependent on Russia for much of their energy supplies.

Of course, even without the Ukrainian crisis, Germany’s approach to energy security, riven with paradoxes, has often confounded outsiders. Germany is a country that is abundant in coal, but feels ashamed to mine it a country that is deficient in sun, but has pinned a large part of its future on solar power and a country that has well-run nuclear power plants, but has decided to shutter them (importing nuclear power from France instead). Rather than pursue an energy security policy that ensures the continuous availability of energy at affordable prices, it is almost as if German leaders have chosen one that does the opposite.

Much of this has been the product of Germany’s Energiewende (energy transition) policy. First talked about in the 1980s and put into practice in the following decades, it envisions Germany gradually doing away with its conventional forms of power generation in favor of renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power. Most Germans hoped that, in time, Energiewende would produce an abundance of renewable energy and a greatly diminished for fossil-fuel or nuclear power. In theory, that would not only reconcile the paradoxes in its current energy situation, but also help create a more verdant society.[1]

But the absence of large-scale electricity storage technology or a suitably designed transmission network has meant that the power generated from renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, remains intermittent. That volatility makes electrical grids difficult to manage. The amount of electricity put on a gird must precisely match the amount that is consumed otherwise variations in voltage could cause rolling blackouts. And so, even as renewable energy sources have become a bigger part of the country’s energy mix, Germany has been unable to wean itself from coal and natural gas. Indeed, it has become even more reliant on them to even out the amount of electricity on its grid.[2]

Meanwhile, to pay for the subsidies that have underwritten the growth in renewable power generation, German households have had to accept electricity costs that have grown to be 48 percent higher than the average in Europe in 2013. (That is on top of a 40 percent increase in European electricity costs over the last decade.) Already some energy intensive industries, like steel and machinery, have shown signs of disinvesting in Germany and locating elsewhere. To prevent that from happening, Germany has exempted some companies from having to pay the subsidy, putting an even greater burden on households. At such high rates, some have begun to wonder whether Energiewende might hollow out Germany’s industrial base before it reaches its goal.[3]

That was the unenviable position that Germany was in when the Ukrainian crisis began. Until recently, environmental concerns have driven Germany’s energy security outlook, much like those in other European countries. Most Germans considered the impact that international security would have on reliable energy supplies as a second-tier concern, whether they admitted it or not. And so, even as Germany curbed its own conventional energy production (principally brown coal), it willingly accepted Russia as a major new natural gas supplier. Berlin appeared untroubled by the possibility that Russia could turn its natural gas supply relationship into political leverage. That seemed to suddenly change with the Ukrainian crisis, when Russia made clear the power that its energy supplies held over Europe’s still-recovering economies. German policymakers surely took note. Perhaps for the first time in a long time, Berlin had to reconsider the assumptions that underlay its energy security, not to mention its approach to Russia.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF OSTPOLITIK

But was this really so sudden for Germany? Not really. Since the late 1960s, Germany (then West Germany) had begun to take incremental foreign policy steps in its relationship with Russia (then the Soviet Union) that led to its natural gas reliance on Russia. At the time, West Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) had just come to power. Chancellor Willy Brandt and his center-left adherents believed that the best path to European security lay in building bridges to, rather than strengthening bulwarks against, the Soviet Union. Brandt hoped he could establish trust with the East, as his Christian Democratic Union predecessor, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, had done with the West.

Brandt’s approach became known as Neue Ostpolitik (new eastern policy). He argued that Germany could bring about Wandel durch Annäherung (change through rapprochement). His efforts culminated in a number of accords between West Germany and the Soviet Union in 1970. Among the first was one in which the two countries agreed to exchange West German wide-diameter steel pipe for future deliveries of Soviet oil and natural gas. At the time it was the biggest trade deal ever concluded between the communist and non-communist blocs. Later that year, the two countries signed an historic agreement to renounce the use of force. Brandt assured his Western allies that Ostpolitik would neither weaken West Germany’s commitment to NATO nor make West Germany dependent on the Soviet Union.

However, Cold War realities eventually intruded on West Germany’s embrace of Ostpolitik. In 1981, the Soviet Union pressured Poland’s communist government to crack down on Solidarity, a Polish trade union which had been agitating for social change. That prompted the United States to impose economic sanctions on the Soviet Union. But Brandt’s SPD successor, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, opposed such a confrontational approach to the Soviet Union. Instead, Schmidt, in line with Ostpolitik, pushed ahead with West Germany’s pipeline deal with the Soviet Union to bring natural gas from Siberia to Europe, antagonizing the United States. Doing so Schmidt demonstrated how Ostpolitik could divide West Germany from one of its closest allies.

West Germany’s next chancellor, the Christian Democratic Union’s Helmut Kohl, managed to mend much of the rift between West Germany and the United States. Kohl’s firm support for NATO and American missile deployments in Western Europe helped immensely. But Kohl did not undo the economic ties that West Germany had established with the Soviet Union. Like most West Germans, he was concerned about the fate of those in East Germany and thought it wise to maintain a dialogue with Moscow. Then, after the end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ostpolitik seemed like a good rubric under which to knit Russia into a broader Europe. The policy also neatly facilitated the greater penetration of German companies into Russia. Many argued that such economic integration would reduce the chance of future conflict, since both sides stood to lose if that was to occur.

That mindset reached its peak during the chancellorship of Gerhard Schröder. A Social Democrat and disciple of Brandt, Schröder reenergized Ostpolitik through his policy of Wandel durch Handel (change through trade) with Russia (and China). He came to believe that Russia (and its president, Vladimir Putin) had fundamentally changed. Thus, during his time as chancellor, Schröder pushed for stronger ties with Russia. He met with Putin at least 37 times and, in 2004, called him a “flawless democrat.”[4] Schröder also pushed for the construction of Nord Stream, a major natural gas pipeline project that is majority-owned by Russia’s Gazprom and would directly connect Russia to Germany. More fearful of natural gas supply disruptions due to differences between Russia and Ukraine (through which its natural gas must pass) than its relations with Russia souring, Berlin approved Nord Stream. The project’s twin pipelines were laid down in 2011 and 2012.[5]

The end of Schröder’s tenure in office did not end Germany’s close relationship with Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her current foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, once Schröder’s chief of staff, have kept the lines of communication open to Moscow. Throughout the Ukrainian crisis, Merkel probably had more direct contact with Putin than any other Western leader. She apparently did so because of her belief that constant dialogue can avoid the sorts of miscommunication that could lead to open conflict. She also did so in order to avoid jeopardizing the major business interests that German companies had built in Russia. But equally as important as both those factors, is that most Germans would rather see their country as a mediator in the crisis between Russia and the West rather than a partisan in it. German politicians who opined that the West had shown insufficient sensitivity towards Russian interests in the years before the crisis reflected that sentiment. In this way, Ostpolitik has continued to resonate in Germany.[6]

As a consequence, over the course of nearly a half century and under various flavors of Ostpolitik, whether Wandel durch Annäherung or Wandel durch Handel, Germany’s reliance on Russian natural gas has been allowed to grow. In 2012, Russia supplied about 37 percent of Germany’s total natural gas demand. That share will rise this year after Nord Stream begins to operate closer to full capacity.[7] Berlin’s decision to abandon nuclear power by 2022—in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdown in 2011—will force Germany to further rely on natural gas (and coal) to not only smooth out the ebb and flow of electricity from renewable energy sources, but also provide baseload power for its grid. That will further exacerbate Germany’s vulnerability to energy supply shocks. And since energy prices are usually set on the margin, even a slight decline in energy supplies could push up already-high German electricity prices. And so, as Berlin determines how it will deal with Russia’s resurgence, it must keep its energy security in mind.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Russia always viewed Ostpolitik somewhat differently than Germany. To be sure there were varied opinions about it within the Soviet Union. One group wanted nothing to do with the West, fearful of its corrupting influences. Another group was open to Ostpolitik, but for reasons that were far from homogeneous. A few may have been genuinely interested in better relations. More wanted to take advantage of the economic benefits that would derive from energy exports to West Germany. Still others sought to use it to promote German “neutralism,” loosening West Germany’s ties with the NATO alliance. Apparently, wandel (change) could work in both directions.[8]

After the Cold War, many of Russia’s pillars of strength faded. The country itself was thrown into economic and political turmoil for most of the 1990s. Russia’s ability to influence events abroad came to be centered on its oil and natural gas exports. Due to pipelines built during the Soviet era, Russia has continued to dominate energy distribution in much of Central and Eastern Europe. Not surprisingly, Moscow has sought to protect and build on that capability. In 2011, Russia solidified its hold on Belarus, not through military force, but rather through the acquisition of its natural gas pipeline network.[9]

Another example has been Russia’s efforts to promote its South Stream pipeline project as an alternative to a European-backed one, called Nabucco, which had envisioned bringing non-Russian natural gas to Central Europe through the Balkans. Many Europeans hoped that Nabucco would increase price competition and ease their energy reliance on Russia. But a series of setbacks halted Nabucco. In 2013, one of its principal backers, a major German utility company, pulled out and then the consortium that was to provide it with natural gas rejected Nabucco as its preferred link to Europe. Finally, Moscow seemed to have won over Hungary, a key Nabucco transit country, to the South Stream camp in early 2014. It did so by granting Hungary aid for its ailing steel industry and state credit for the construction of two new nuclear power blocs at its Paks nuclear power plant. Although there are still hopes for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which plans to ship natural gas across Greece and into Italy, that route would leave countries like Bulgaria and Romania dependent on Russian energy.[10]

In the short term, Germany has few good options. Almost half a century of choices created the situation that Germany finds itself. It is unrealistic to think that they could be quickly reversed. Some Germans sympathetic to Schröder’s view argue that nothing needs to be reversed and that, if only given more time and understanding, Russia can change. But the rest of Germany is not so sure any more. In fact, more Germans hold a dim view of Russia than do Americans, according to the German Marshall Fund survey late last year.[11] But to improve the state of its energy security, Germany must either create new domestic energy sources or find them elsewhere.

Of course, the fastest way to create new domestic energy sources is not to discard those already in existence. In short, Germany could slow or stop its process of rapid decommissioning of its nuclear power plants. Rather than phase out nuclear power, it could replace its last-generation plants with next-generation ones that produce less radioactive waste and have additional safeguards against meltdown. But that is unlikely, given the strength of anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany.

Another course would be for Germany to accelerate its Energiewende. Theoretically, the faster it can make the transition to renewable energy the better. Unfortunately, simply boosting Germany’s intermittent renewable energy sources would also increase the volatility of electricity on the country’s grid. That in turn would exacerbate the difficulties (and costs) in balancing the grid’s electricity supply and demand. To do that today, Germany has had to import and burn more coal, raising the country’s carbon dioxide emissions to their highest levels since 1990. Ironically, Germany’s attempt to be friendlier to the environment has led to it to pollute more.[12]

Since large-scale electricity storage technology is still unavailable, Germany could speed up its plans to build 4,000 km of new transmission lines to shift electricity from parts of the country where renewable energy is produced to those parts where shortages will exist after its nuclear power plants are closed. So far, only 300 km of transmission lines have been built. By one count, 15 out of 24 grid-expansion projects are up to seven years behind schedule. The reasons why vary: difficulty in securing the appropriate financing a lack of coordination between German states and the paradoxical opposition from German citizens who “(demand) an end to nuclear power but (object) to the new transmission grid being built in their backyard.”[13]

A fourth course for Germany would be to use hydraulic fracturing technology (commonly known as fracking) to produce natural gas from the shale formations that lie under its northern states. Early in 2013, it seemed as though Germany would seriously consider fracking as a method to fuel gas-fired power plants. But a year later, domestic concerns about the technology’s possible environmental impact had essentially shelved that solution.[14]

As for sourcing Germany’s natural gas from elsewhere, that is easier said than done. Given the major financial investment that German companies have made into Nord Stream and the fact that it just came online, it would be difficult for Berlin to suddenly back away from it. With the Nabucco pipeline project stymied for the moment, Germany could turn to Norway’s offshore natural gas fields. However, those fields are too small to satisfy all of Germany’s natural gas demand. Ultimately, Germany would have to make new billion-euro investments to building liquefied natural gas terminals to import natural gas from more distant sources. Even if left unused, such terminals would provide Germany with the flexibility to do so, if the need ever arose. Though extremely expensive, they would give Berlin more bargaining room with its existing natural gas suppliers, like Russia.

For the time being, Germany’s plan is to press forward with its Energiewende. Indeed, there is little else Berlin can do, given that German law prevents it from retroactively reneging on its current subsidy scheme. And, as some have calculated, changing the scheme now would do little to alter its economic costs. But Germany could change the goal of its subsidy program from creating more renewable energy to deploying new electricity storage technologies, like flywheels or gas to power (whatever their current level of development) or speeding the construction of its new transmission network (even if that means overriding the parochial interests of German states). Such measures would make Energiewende more practical, but could not free Germany from its rising reliance on Russian natural gas.[15]

Germany needs reliable and cost-effective energy to support its world-class industrial economy. Energiewende has demonstrated that renewable energy sources can satisfy a substantial share of Germany’s electricity demand. But they cannot satisfy all of it, nor can they ensure the stability of the country’s electrical grid without support from coal and gas-fired power plants. That ultimately means figuring out how to deal with Russia.

Perhaps it is time for Berlin to reconsider the flavor of Ostpolitik that it should pursue. For all of Germany’s engagement with Russia over the last 44 years, the basic motivations of Russian foreign policy are fundamentally unverändert (unchanged). Similar security concerns continue to inform Russia’s strategic behavior. What changed in the intervening years was only Russia’s ability to act on its impulses.

As such, Russia is likely to continue to loom large in German foreign policy thinking, as it has been since the nineteenth century. After all, Germany has always been a country sandwiched in the heart of Europe, with great powers to its east and west. To think that Germany could completely distance itself from its massive eastern neighbor is unrealistic. However, perhaps a new incarnation of Ostpolitik is warranted, one that is pursued under the banner of Wandel durch Stärke (change through strength). That would be something that Russia (and Russian leaders) would understand and take more seriously when pursuing its agenda in Europe. Stärke would require that Germany get more practical about not only its energy security, but also its national security.

[1] “German Lessons,” Economist, Apr. 3, 2008.

[2] Some German environmentalists argue that more renewable energy sources would not undermine grid reliability. With enough wind and solar power generation spread across Germany, there would be enough wind or sun somewhere to provide a consistent flow of electricity to the grid. As evidence, they point to the fact that Germany’s grid has not yet failed. “How to lose half a trillion euros,” Economist, Oct. 12, 2013.

[3] Exempting companies from paying the subsidy has drawn the attention of the European Union’s competition commissioner, who has begun investigating whether the whole subsidy and exemption scheme violates European law. Henning Gloystein and Vera Eckert, “Analysis: German households pay for lower industrial power prices,” Reuters, May 21, 2013 Bjørn Lomborg, “Germany’s energy policy is expensive, harmful and short-sighted,” Financial Times, Mar. 16, 2014.

[4] “Ex-Chancellor Schröder defends Putin in Helsinki,” Helsingin Sanomat, May 8, 2007, https://www.hs.fi/english/article/Ex-Chancellor+Schr%C3%B6der+defends+Putin+in+Helsinki/1135227092892 J. Himmelreich, “Wieder nüchtern warden,” Tagesspiegel, Jan. 15, 2006.

[5] After Schröder left office, he became chairman of Nord Stream’s shareholders’ committee. Later he joined the board of directors for TNK-BP, a joint venture between Russian and European energy companies. During the Ukrainian crisis, he argued that Russia’s actions in Crimea were no different from NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Schröder has continued his friendship with Putin, even spending his seventieth birthday with him. Andrea Thomas, “German Ex-Chancellor Schröder Celebrates Birthday With Russia’s Putin,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 29, 2014 Christopher S. Chivvis and Thomas Rid, “The Roots of Germany’s Russia Policy,” Survival 51:2 (April-May 2009), pp. 105-122 “Germany’s Russia policy,” Economist, Mar. 22, 2014 Gerhard Schröder, “Change through Integration,” Spiegel Online, May 22, 2007, https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/former-german-chancellor-advocates-closer-ties-with-moscow-change-through-integration-a-484013.html.

[6] Matthew Karnitschnig, “Corporate Germany Opposes Sanctions,” Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2014, pp. A1, A6 Matthew Karnitschnig, “Germany’s Angela Merkel Treads Softly With Russia’s Putin On Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2014 Alison Smale, “Ukraine Crisis Limits Merkel’s Rapport With Putin,” New York Times, Mar. 12, 2014.

[7] Nord Stream consists of two pipelines, with a total annual capacity of 55 cubic meters. Pipeline continuation problems limited Nord Stream’s flow to half its capacity until 2014. “Russia, EU Agree to Let German Pipeline Run at Full Capacity,” RIA Novosti, Jan. 29, 2014, https://en.ria.ru/world/20140129/186999579/Russia-EU-Agree-to-Let-German-Pipeline-Run-at-Full-Capacity.html.

[8] Michael J. Sodaro, “Soviet Foreign Policy and the Two German States,” National Council for Soviet and East European Research Working Paper, Oct. 1988, pp. 58-66.

[9] Alan Cullison, “Russia Tightens Its Grip in Belarus,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26, 2011.

[10] Selina Williams and Vanessa Mock, “Gazprom Pushes Ahead With New Pipeline, Despite Ukraine Standoff,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 8, 2014 “Power out(r)age,” Economist, Feb. 10, 2014 Vladimir Socor, “Russian Energy Projects and Hungarian Politics,” Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor, Feb. 10, 2014 Art Patnaude and Jan Hromadko, “European Pipeline Loses Bid to Ship Gas,” Wall Street Journal, Jun. 26, 2013.

[11] Steve Szabo, “Germany Faces Tough Choices on Russia,” GMF Blog, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Dec. 11, 2013, https://blog.gmfus.org/2013/12/11/germany-faces-tough-choices-on-russia.

[12] Stefan Wagstyl, “German coal use at highest level since 1990,” Financial Times, Jan. 7, 2014.

[13] “Tilting at windmills,” Economist, Jun. 15, 2013.

[14] Vera Eckert, “Unleash German shale to halt gas output decline, industry pleads,” Reuters, Feb. 6, 2014 William Boston, “Germany Debates Fracking as Energy Costs Rise,” Wall Street Journal, Mar. 1, 2013.

[15] Chris Nelder, “Turn Up the Juice: New Flywheel Raises Hopes for Energy Storage Breakthrough,”

Scientific American, Apr. 10, 2013, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-flywheel-design.

Felix K. Chang is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of DecisionQ, a predictive analytics company, and an assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.


Ostpolitik in Germany

West Germany’s relations with the East European states had virtually stagnated since the establishment of the Hallstein Doctrine in the mid-1950s. In 1970, in an attempt to lessen tensions in Europe, Brandt and his FDP minister for foreign affairs, Walter Scheel, agreed to negotiate with the communist bloc. For the first time since 1948, the top politicians of the FRG and the GDR held talks, with Brandt and the East German prime minister, Willi Stoph, meeting in Erfurt in East Germany and Kassel in West Germany. Although the talks produced no concrete results because Brandt refused to recognize the GDR as a sovereign state, communication lines were reopened.

After coordinating policy goals with the United States, the FRG also entered negotiations with the Soviet Union on a treaty normalizing relations, in which both countries renounced the use of force. The FRG agreed to make no territorial claims, and it recognized de facto the Oder-Neisse border and the border between the FRG and the GDR. FRG negotiators, however, insisted that such agreements did not alter the West German position on future reunification of the country and that the responsibilities of the Four Powers in Germany remained unchanged by the treaty. They also linked the signing of the treaty to a Soviet promise to open talks on normalizing the Berlin situation. After the Soviet Union had agreed to these conditions, the Treaty of Moscow was signed in August 1970. The agreement opened the road to negotiations with other countries of the Soviet bloc.

In December 1970, after ten months of complicated negotiations, the FRG and Poland signed the Treaty of Warsaw. The treaty contained essentially the same points as the Treaty of Moscow on the question of Poland’s western border, the renunciation of territorial claims by the FRG, and the ongoing responsibilities of the Four Powers. In return, Poland agreed to allow ethnic Germans still in Poland to emigrate to the FRG. During the subsequent debates on the ratification of the two treaties, the CDU/CSU and part of the FDP made their consent contingent on the formulation of a strong statement by the Bundestag underscoring Germany’s right to reunification in self-determination and of the Allies’ responsibilities for Germany and Berlin.

Concurrent with the negotiations on the treaties of Moscow and Warsaw, the Four Powers undertook to end disagreement about the status of Berlin in talks that ultimately led to the Four Power Agreement (also known as the Quadripartite Agreement) of September 1971. The talks, which began in March 1970, got off to a difficult start because the Western Allies and the Soviet Union were deeply divided over their basic interpretation of the “status of Berlin.” After they “agreed to disagree” on this point, progress was finally made, and all sides concurred that the status quo of Berlin should not be changed unilaterally.

The Soviet Union made two very important concessions: traffic to and from West Berlin would be unimpeded in the future, and the existing ties of West Berlin to the FRG were given de facto recognition. Soviet officials, however, insisted that West Berlin was not to be considered a territory belonging to the FRG and therefore was not to be governed by it. Furthermore, the Soviet Union made the conclusion of the agreement among the Four Powers contingent on the signing of the Treaty of Moscow between the FRG and the Soviet Union, which was still under negotiation. They thereby established the same linkage that the FRG had demanded, but in reverse.

The Four Power Agreement charged the governments of West Berlin and the GDR with negotiating an accord that would regulate access to and from West Berlin from the FRG and secure the right of West Berliners to visit East Berlin and the GDR. The Transit Agreement of May 1972 arranged these matters and also secured the rights of GDR citizens to visit the FRG, but only in cases of family emergency.

Following the negotiations on traffic between the FRG and the GDR, both sides recognized the feasibility of arriving at a more comprehensive treaty between the two German states. Talks began in August 1972 and culminated in December 1972 with the signing of the Basic Treaty. In the treaty, both states committed themselves to developing normal relations on the basis of equality, guaranteeing their mutual territorial integrity as well as the border between them, and recognizing each other’s independence and sovereignty. They also agreed to the exchange of “permanent missions” in Bonn and East Berlin to further relations.

After the bitterly contested approval of the Basic Treaty by the SPD-FDP-controlled Bundestag in May 1973, a political decision that the CDU/CSU had warned against for decades became a reality: West Germany’s de facto recognition of East Germany as a separate state. To many conservatives, the Basic Treaty represented the failure of the Hallstein Doctrine and a final blow to the possibility of Germany’s reunification. Bavaria filed a suit in the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to prevent the treaty’s implementation, but the court held the treaty to be compatible with the provisions of the Basic Law. As a result of the treaty, the FRG and the GDR became members of the UN in June 1973.

Among the states to the east, Czechoslovakia remained the only neighbor with which West Germany had not yet normalized diplomatic relations. Negotiations with this country proved to be considerably more difficult than those with the Soviet Union or Poland. The main obstacle was a difference in interpreting the Munich Agreement of September 1938. On the one hand, the FRG maintained that the accord itself had to be considered legally valid but that the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 had voided its provisions. Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, insisted that the accord be considered void from the very beginning. Both sides finally agreed that the accord was to be considered void, but that all legal proceedings in the occupied territory between 1938 and 1945 were to be upheld. Once this basic understanding had been reached, the treaty with Czechoslovakia, known as the Treaty of Prague, similar in content to the Treaty of Warsaw, was signed in December 1973, and diplomatic relations were established. Shortly thereafter, West Germany exchanged ambassadors with Hungary and Bulgaria.


Fifty Years since Ostpolitik. How Willy Brandt’s Diplomacy Transformed Europe

Stephan Kieninger is a historian and the author of two books on the history of détente and Euro-Atlantic security: “The Diplomacy of Détente. Cooperative Security Policies from Helmut Schmidt to George Shultz” (London: Routledge, 2018) and “Dynamic Détente. The United States and Europe, 1964–1975” (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). His current research looks into NATO enlargement and the search for the post-Cold War order. He received his Ph.D. from Mannheim University. Formerly, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins SAIS, a Fellow at the Berlin Center for Cold War Studies and a Senior Research Associate at the Federal German Archives.

It is fifty years since the start of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik. Brandt was a peculiar figure in contemporary history. Brandt’s dropping to his knees in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial in 1970 is one of the most iconic gestures of modern European history. In 1971, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to peace and security. His statecraft created a new quality of international relations. His Ostpolitik was aimed at the emergence of a united Germany and a Europe whole and free. His objective was to “reunite what belongs together” as he famously said when the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989. Ostpolitik helped to lay the seeds of democracy in the Warsaw Pact countries. Brandt’s aim was to encourage the slow and difficult process of Eastern Europe’s reassociation with the rest of the world. Ostpolitik and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 turned freedom and openness into the pivotal principles of Europe’s security. The Final Act’s provisions on human rights and the freer movement of people, information, and ideas turned into the ferment for a transnational network of dissidents, human rights activists, and peace movements that challenged Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union until its demise. Willy Brandt had envisioned this dynamic Helsinki effect: He believed in soft power and in the ability to facilitate liberalizing changes in the societies of Eastern Europe.

Willy Brandt had envisioned this dynamic Helsinki effect: He believed in soft power and in the ability to facilitate liberalizing changes in the societies of Eastern Europe.

After the federal elections on September 28, 1969, it took Brandt merely four weeks to form a coalition government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Brandt, who ran for the third time after 1961 and 1965, was elected chancellor on October 21, 1969, the first Social Democratic chancellor in the postwar period. Thereafter, he began to pursue his Ostpolitik initiatives at enormous speed. The Moscow Treaty in August 1970 was the first tangible result, followed by the Warsaw Treaty in December 1970, the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin in September 1971, and the so-called “Basic Treaty” with East Germany of November 1972 that turned out to be the beginning of new era in West Germany’s relations with the German Democratic Republic. Brandt’s recipe for success was a comprehensive concept for Ostpolitik that had been developed in intense discussions with the Kennedy and Johnson administrations during Willy Brandt’s tenure as Governing Mayor of Berlin and foreign minister of the Grand Coalition government with the conservative CDU and CSU parties between 1966 and 1969. Fifty years ago, in the autumn of 1969, Brandt initiated the implementation of Ostpolitik’s blueprint. The key to success was support from the Nixon administration. Unlike Kennedy and Johnson, Nixon and Kissinger never became friends with Brandt. Nixon was troubled that Brandt’s Ostpolitik, however well intentioned, contained the danger of a resurgence of German nationalism. Brandt was utterly conscious of Nixon’s mistrust: He felt responsibility to limit the risks of his diplomacy and to define the horizons of Germany’s foreign policy. At the same time, Brandt dared to raise the question of German national interests and attempted to relate them—and indeed succeeded in relating them—to the common interests of the West. Looking back, Henry Kissinger said that “the great quality of Brandt was a combination of a prophetic vision and the ability to translate it into human experience. No formal statements could have reassured the rest of the world as much as suggestions like the visit to the Warsaw Ghetto and the commitment that Brandt represented to the kind of human values that had not been associated with a national German policy or much of modern history.”[1]

[1] Henry Kissinger, “The Response,” in Remembering Willy Brandt (Berlin: Schriftenreihe der Bundeskanzler-Willy-Brandt-Stiftung, Volume 10, 2003), p. 45.


Paradoxes of Ostpolitik : Revisiting the Moscow and Warsaw Treaties, 1970

This article reexamines the diplomacy of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik , focusing on two landmark achievements in 1970: the Moscow Treaty in August, and the Warsaw Treaty in December. On the basis of declassified US and German documentation, it argues that envoy Egon Bahr’s unconventional approach resulted in a poorly negotiated treaty with the Soviet Union that failed to address vital problems such as the status of Berlin. The outcome deepened political polarization at home and proved disconcerting to many West German allies it also forced the four World War II victors—Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union—to save Brandt’s Ostpolitik by grinding out an agreement on access to Berlin. By contrast, West German negotiations in Warsaw yielded a treaty more in line with West German expectations, though the results proved sorely disappointing to the Polish leadership. Disagreements over restitution payments (repacked as government credits) and the emigration of ethnic Germans would bedevil German-Polish relations for years to come. Bonn’s Ostpolitik thus had a harder edge than the famous image of Brandt kneeling in Warsaw would suggest.

In diesem Aufsatz wird die Diplomatie der Ostpolitik Willy Brandts neu betrachtet und zwar mit einem Fokus auf deren zwei Meilensteine des Jahres 1970, den Moskauer Vertrag vom August und den Warschauer Vertrag vom Dezember. Auf der Basis freigegebener US-amerikanischer und deutscher Akten wird argumentiert, dass Botschafter Egon Bahrs unkonventionelle Herangehensweise zu einem schlecht verhandelten Vertrag mit der Sowjetunion führte, in dem es versäumt wurde, essentielle Fragen, wie etwa den Status Berlins, anzusprechen. Das Ergebnis vertiefte die politische Polarisierung in der Bundesrepublik und gab den westlichen Alliierten Anlass zur Sorge darüber hinaus wurden die vier Siegermächte des Zweiten Weltkrieges – Großbritannien, Frankreich, die Vereinigten Staaten und die Sowjetunion – gezwungen, Brandts Ostpolitik durch eine mühsam zustande gekommene Einigung über den Zugang zu Berlin zu retten. Im Gegensatz dazu führten die westdeutschen Verhandlungen in Warschau zu einem Vertrag, der eher den westdeutschen Erwartungen entsprach, wobei die Ergebnisse aus Sicht der polnischen Führung freilich überaus enttäuschend waren. Unstimmigkeiten bezüglich Wiedergutmachungszahlungen (neu verpackt als Regierungskredite) und die Emigration ethnischer Deutscher würden die deutsch-polnischen Beziehungen auf Jahre hinaus erschweren. Die Bonner Ostpolitik hatte in der Tat schärfere Kanten als das berühmte Bild eines knienden Brandts in Warschau suggeriert.


Ostpolitik and the CSCE

Since 1966, both the trend towards détente and the project of a conference on security in Europe went through various phases before finally resulting in a process leading to the creation of the CSCE in 1972. Détente and the CSCE process both focussed on the territorial order in Europe to which the German question still held the key, and on the lessening of tensions in East-West relations and the expansion of contacts between Western and Eastern Europe . The CSCE's Final Act, signed on August 1 st , 1975 , in Helsinki , finally offered a perspective on how the division of the continent in the Cold War might eventually be overcome. Support for this vision varied according to the different actors and their motives. As seen from the Federal Republic of Germany, the CSCE at least offered an opportunity to work for greater permeability of the inner-German border and &ndash in the long reach &ndash for an end to the nation's division. Bonn 's second long-term goal was the liberalisation of Eastern Europe by opening up the Soviet empire to the West, thus weakening the hold of the Soviet Union 's hegemonic power over its allies. The reactions of the Warsaw Pact's member states ranged from open rapprochement to feeling threatened, according to their national interests and self-perception. More, please click here.

The study aims to analyse the developing policies and goals of the Federal Republic of Germany in connection with those of its major Western allies during the years of détente, 1966-1975. The origins, politics and ultimate goals of the Neue Ostpolitik devised by Brandt and Bahr are the focus of all research conducted within the framework of the project. "National interest" and "growing up" remained key terms in the public debate of the 1970s, signalling a new phase in West German history and a deep desire for more independence in international affairs than had hitherto been possible. Bonn acquired a greater influence within the Western alliance, and greater room for manoeuvre towards the Eastern bloc and vis-à-vis the so-called Third-World. The controversy over the nature and significance of German national interest in 1989/90 all but neglected the results and definitions arrived at almost two decades earlier. It is within this context that the project aims to analyse the relations between the FRG and its major Western allies (the United States, France and Britain), as well as considering the overall context of European integration and East-West détente. More, please click here.


Pope Francis, His Ostpolitik and the Issue of History

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, traveled to Russia August 21-24, and everything went fine, according to reports. At a first sight, it seems too early to think about a possible trip to Moscow for Pope Francis, while it is more likely that we will see a second meeting between Pope Francis and the Russian Patriarch Kirill, after the first, historic meeting between a Pope and a Moscow Patriarch that took place February 12, 2016.

Is the trip a sign that Pope Francis’s diplomacy toward the eastern European countries is succeeding?

There is no simple answer to this question. One of the most developed topics around the trip is that of the so-called Vatican Ostpolitik. Ostpolitik describes the Holy See’s policy with the eastern bloc countries that were on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Ostpolitik was a diplomacy of dialogue, developed in the 60s by Msgr. Agostino Casaroli, later St. John Paul II’s Secretary of State.

Ostpolitik was very much criticized within Church ranks, especially from the Cardinals of the Church of Silence, i.e., Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, and above all Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, Archbishop of Budapest-Esztergom. They both considered the Holy See’s approach as amounting to too much dialoguing with the countries of the Soviet bloc.

Cardinal Mindszenty, who had to live for years in the US Embassy in Budapest to escape arrest after he had earlier been subjected to a farcical trial, died in exile. Cardinal Wyszynski even said once during a Synod: “Homo Casaroliensis non sum”, “I am not a Casaroli man.”

Considering that Cardinal Parolin was trained under Cardinal Casaroli, his appointment as Nuncio to Venezuela was interpreted as a rejection of the Vatican Ostpolitik. His return to Rome, and his way of building bridges, was then interpreted as a return of Ostpolitik, to be applied in difficult situations like the relations with China.

But can the discussion really be reduced to being for or against Ostpolitik?

As always during this pontificate, it is noteworthy that the discussion has been carried on quasi political lines. Cardinal Parolin continues to garner ever more consideration within Church ranks. However, his defenders have also targeted those who criticized the Cardinal’s diplomatic approach, labeling them as clerical. To those who object that the Casaroli approach which Cardinal Parolin is said to be following is diplomacy without faith, Parolin’s defenders reply that both Parolin and Casaroli are directly inspired by their vocation.

Perhaps it is the term Ostpolitik that does not work. Gian Maria Vian, Editor of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, raised this point in a contribution he made to the book Agostino Casaroli: lo sguardo lungo della Chiesa.

According to Vian, the term Ostpolitik is “easy and evocative”, but it is not “the most precise”, as it comes from the German policy of opening toward Communist countries. The Church’s opening started earlier.

Vian explains that the origins of the Holy See’s action in the eastern countries “dates back to Pope Benedict XV. In 1918, Benedict sent Achille Ratti to Poland”. Ratti’s mission “came some years before the short one of another future Pope, the young Giovanni Battista Montini, who served in the Warsaw nunciature in 1923. He stayed there for just a few months, probably because of his poor health.”

After returning from his mission, and being elected Pope with the name of Pius XI, “Ratti attempted to negotiate impossible treaties with the Soviets, also through the Nuncio [Eugenio] Pacelli.”

Pacelli will be later appointed Pius XI’s Secretary of State, and he will be then elected Pope Pius XII. An anti-communist, Pope Pius XII – Vian recounts – “was very pragmatic in facing the Nazi threat. He asks the US Bishops to convince American Catholics not to oppose to the alliance of their country with the Soviet Union. He uses the IOR, with adventurous operations, to support with many millions of dollars the US war industry against Hitler and the Third Reich.”

This is how “Pius XII becomes a target, at least since 1944, when attacks – also supported by the Russian Church – are launched against a Pope accused of being silent in front of the Nazi crimes, to the point of being an accomplice.” These were the effects of the Soviet Union’s Westpolitik, fed with disinformation.

And this is how we get to Casaroli’s Ostpolitik. Casaroli was appointed Secretary of State by St. John Paul II. George Weigel, in his book The End and the Beginning, noted that John Paul managed the Holy See’s moves toward the countries of the Soviet bloc directly from the papal apartments. The Pope – according to Weigel – was not as intransigent as Cardinal Mindszenty, but not as “collaborationist” as Cardinal Casaroli was.

“To Casaroli” – Zbigniew Brzezinski, quoted in the Weigel’s book, noted – “Communism was a form of power one should cohabitate with. To John Paul II, Communism was an evil that could not be prevented, but could be weakened.”

Today, there is a different situation. The theme of communism as political power can be applied mostly to Asian countries, China and Vietnam above all. On the other hand, the Holy See’s dialogue with the countries of the former Soviet bloc is considered largely in terms of ecumenical dialogue.

As there were Orthodox who supported the campaign against Pope Pius XII, there were also Orthodox who protested against the possible canonization of Cardinal Aloizje Stepinac of Zagreb, another martyr of the Church of Silence. Pope Francis responded to these critics by setting up a mixed commission that did not lead to any conclusion and saw everyone remaining fixed on their original positions. When it comes to relations with the Orthodox world, history is crucial. But for the Orthodox, it is mostly a political issue.

Just as political was the approach taken by the Moscow Patriarchate to the Catholic Church. This rapprochement was partially suggested by the perceived need of the Russian Orthodox hierarchy to have same direct channel with the Holy See as that of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople – especially in view of the Pan-Orthodox Synod which took place in June 2016 without the participation of the Moscow Patriarchate. But the rapprochement was also fostered by Russia’s need to have an international partner in these times of diplomatic isolation.

It is not surprising that during the meeting he had with Cardinal Parolin, President Putin showed his appreciation for the collaboration between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Catholic Church on the big issues of secularization and global peace: the Russian president is aware of the extraordinary role that religions have in shaping popular sentiment.

Nor was it surprising that the meeting left some issues unresolved. It could not be otherwise.

As are as the points in common are concerned, it is noteworthy that Cardinal Parolin had a long conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. The two discussed the Ukrainian and Syrian crises. They also talked about the persecution of minorities in Middle East, especially the dramatic ones that involve Christians, and Lavrov agreed with Cardinal Parolin that minorities must be defended from the threat of Islamic extremism.

On this point, Christians of the Middle East have an optimistic take on the Kremlin’s pro-Assad politics, given that Catholics in Syria were not under threat from Assad. Pope Francis himself was accused of “ecumenical correctness” – in John Allen’s words – for supporting Catholics with these positions. In Cardinal Parolin’s mind, one must “talk and try to look for the dialogue with everyone,” Moscow included.

But there were also disagreements on other points, as Cardinal Parolin made clear during the press conference with Lavrov. One is the conditions of Christians in Russia. The Catholic Church in Russia has been asking for long time for a direct Vatican intervention in local situations where the freedom of worship is limited. Among these problems, is the issue of the Moscow real estate that once belonged to the Catholic Church and was seized in Soviet era, Msgr. Igor Kovalevsky, General Secretary of the Russian Bishops Conference, told Crux. Despite many declarations that claim the opposite, the local authorities have not yet returned many of these buildings and churches. Once again, history is crucial.

It is for this reason that Cardinal Parolin emphasized that his visit had an ecumenical value. In Russia, there are 773,000 Catholics, representing just the 0.5 per cent of the population. “Every religious community needs an adequate place for worship, a church, a temple, to profess their faith,” Cardinal Parolin said to the Moscow Archdiocese’s bulletin.

The theme of Catholic real estate seized in favor of the Orthodox Church is a key topic in every country of the former Soviet bloc. The Ukrainian situation is no exception.

The Ukrainian situation was among the issues in the relations between the Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate, though the situation was not mentioned in depth for diplomatic reasons.

Despite the irregularities, the Moscow Patriarchate still considers canonical the Synod’s decision, though even those involved in the suppression of the 1596 Union of Brest have said that they were able to convert the Greek Catholic priests to Orthodoxy only with the help of the secret police.

Today, the Russian Orthodox Church frequently condemns the terrorist actions of the Crimean activists. However, according to data of the secret police, the Russian Orthodox Church took active part in the violent liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Bohdan R. Bociurkiv, The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Soviet State (1939-1950). Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton 1996.). No amount of scientific publishing nor the secret documents published so far have brought the Moscow Patriarchate to tell the truth. And this is not the only case.

The Greek Catholic Church chose the catacombs. It was prepared to do so since 1939, when Bolsheviks arrived in the western Ukraine and Metropolitan Sheptytsky immediately foresaw that a repression was in the offing. Sheptytsky send a letter to Rome, saying he was prepared to die for the Church, and predicted difficult times for the Church in 1944, shortly before dying. His faithful were ready.

When the Greek Catholics emerged from the catacombs, they struggled to regain what was previously theirs. This is what the Russian Orthodox still labels as proselytism.

This issue was part of the Cardinal Parolin’s talks in Russia. It shows that the real problem is always history. Until now, the eastern diplomacy of Pope Francis has mostly aimed to deal with concrete issues: from the diplomacy of the relics to the ecumenical one, from the diplomacy performed in order to protect Christians to that in favor of the family. The gaze set on the East consists in dialogue, from the historical point of view as well, as the commission set up to clarify the positions of Cardinal Stepinac shows.

Now, everyone is waiting for a possible trip to Russia by Pope Francis. The hope is that, as a consequence of the trip, dialogue will be carried out in a more consistent way, involving a reconciliation with history, before a theological or pragmatic reconciliation will take place.


Willy Brandt biographyThe Ostpolitik policy

Willy Brandt is the adopted name of Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm. Born in December 1913 to an unwed Lubeck shopgirl, he was raised by his maternal grandfather to be a fervent blue-collar socialist. As a teenager Brandt first joined the Socialist Party of Germany (SPD) in 1930, but one year later switched to a more radical spin-off, the SAP. In 1933, to escape arrest by the Gestapo, he changed his name to Willy Brandt and fled to Scandinavia where he was active as a journalist and in anti-fascist movements.

In 1945 / 46 he worked as a correspondent in Germany for Scandinavian newspapers and then became press officer at the Norwegian Mission in Berlin. Brandt was persuaded by fellow Social Democrats to apply for reinstatement of his German citizenship, which had been lifted by the Nazis in 1938.

Brandt, who is thin-skinned and sensitive, has often been called a "traitor" in West Germany for fleeing during the Nazi years. Brandt declares: "I did not regard my fate as an exile as a blot on my copybook, but rather as a chance to serve the 'Other Germany,' which did not resign itself submissively to enslavement."

In 1949 he was elected a member of the first parliament of the post-war West Germany that convened in Bonn. A fierce anti-communist and pragmatic socialist, Brandt quickly made a name for himself in the SPD serving as editor-in-chief of the social democratic Berliner Stadtblatt. In 1957 the SPD chose him as its candidate for the office of Governing Mayor in West Berlin.

At the 1958 Stuttgart Party Congress Brandt was elected to the Party Committee and he was prominent in the proceedings of an extraordinary party congress held in Bad Godesburg in 1959 where the policy outlook of the party was fundamentally adjusted in the so-called Godesburger Program which accepted that a social market economy had some advantages of and disavowed rigourously Marxist state ownership policies.

Journalist Egon Bahr, who was his press aide and who was to become his chief foreign policy advisor, began to propound the thesis that West Germany could influence developments within East Germany by establishing closer contacts with it. It was a concept that subsequently was expanded to include the entire East bloc. The turning point in Brandt's own thinking came on that fateful weekend of Aug. 12-13, 1961, when the East German state (the DDR) suddenly began to erect the Wall through the heart of Berlin to stem the outflow of East German refugees.

The Wall was a blatant violation of international understandings about free movement throughout the city, but the Western allies waited a full 48 hours before lodging an ineffectual protest with the Soviets. "Kennedy cooked our goose," said Brandt, and he fired off a blistering reproach to the President. (He later mellowed toward Kennedy, however, after the young President delivered his Ich bin ein Berliner speech in West Berlin in June, 1963.)

Brandt decided that if anything was to be done to ease relations between Bonn and East Berlin, the Germans would have to do it themselves. Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr presented their ideas regarding German and Eastern policies in July 1963 to a conference of the Protestant Academy in Tutzing. The basis of the "new Eastern and German policy", as it will be described, is the recognition that the European catastrophe began with the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933 and that Germany must accept the historical results. This recognition can lead to contact with the East European states in a climate of detente. The new policy conceptualized by Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr is circumscribed by concepts such as "change through rapprochement" (Bahr) and "policy of small steps" (Brandt).

It was the beginning of the later-to-be-famous policy of Ostpolitik, which sought to overcome the effects of the division of Germany and Europe on the basis of the recognition of its reality.

Among the early results of these policies were the Berlin Senates' signing in December 1963 of the so-called pass agreement with the DDR whereby permits were made available for limited visits by West Berliners to the Eastern sector of the city. The privilege was later extended to other citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Brandt was nominated the SPD candidate for chancellor in 1965. One of the themes of his campaign for the chancellorship was based on the view that - "There will never be any real peace until we come to a settlement with our Eastern neighbors." Brandt's 1968 book, A Peace Policy for Europe held that "The recognition is growing that the nations of Europe must and will not simply come to terms with being permanently divided by the conflict between East and West . even fundamental differences of political conviction and of social structure need not hold back the states of Europe. from working together in areas of common interest for the consolidation of an enduring peace."

Brandt served as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister in a West German coalition government between 1966 and 1969. His election as West Germany's first Social Democratic Chancellor in October 1969 was a marginal victory. Germany was however in the process of profound change and, by this time, many of Brandt's liabilities were converted into assets. Once in office, he swiftly began executing a broad diplomatic design that has been ripening in his mind for years. Less than six weeks after he became Chancellor, Brandt went to The Hague for a meeting of the six heads of government of the Common Market countries. Largely because of Charles de Gaulle's refusal to allow the six to admit new members, the Common Market was stagnating there was feeling that it might fall apart unless it regained momentum. "The German Parliament and public expect me to return from this conference with concrete arrangements for the Community's enlargement," Brandt told France's President Georges Pompidou in open session. "Those who fear the economic strength of West Germany," he shrewdly added, "should favor expansion." Pompidou, who has come to regard London as a necessary counterbalance to Bonn, reversed his predecessor's policy and voted to reopen negotiations looking toward Britain's admission.

His Chancellorship became most renowned for the implementation of Ostpolitik and West Germany's further reconciliation with the outside world. In 1969 - a quarter of a century after World War II, no European peace treaty has been written, and, in a very real sense, the results of the war had not been resolved. In the West, Bonn had made detente impossible by refusing to acknowledge the loss of a huge chuck of its land to Poland and by stridently insisting that it would absorb East Berlin's Communist regime in an eventual German reunification. Willy Brandt was the first West German statesman reluctantly willing to accept the complete consequences of defeat: the lost lands, the admission of moral responsibility, and acknowledgement of Germany's participation.

Using West Germany's considerable strategic and economic leverage, Brandt tried to bring about an enlarged and united Western Europe, which would remain closely allied with the U.S. but would also have sufficient self-confidence and independence to form close ties with the Communist nations.

Brandt's government concluded a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union and also normalized relations with Poland, Czechoslovakia, and, finally, East Germany. What made Ostpolitik possible was the fact that Brandt's government recognized Europe's borders as inviolable, and furthermore that it acknowledged the existence of two states in the German nation. Even though formally Brandt did not give up on the objective of German unification, many Germans at the time seemed to have their doubts. For both East and West, Willy Brandt's road was potentially perilous. In the West, there were misgivings that Brandt's initiatives might end with Bonn's accepting onerous conditions from the Communists and getting little or nothing in return. In the East, there was concern that Brandt's policies would lead to more contact with the West than is either prudent or safe.

In this process, Brandt was implicitly challenging the Communist countries to expand their dealings with the West, and indirectly, to allow wider freedom for their own people. This challenge slowed the momentum of Brandt's diplomacy, but did not inhibit it completely. Opposed to the hard-liners in practically every politburo in the East bloc there were pragmatists who saw detente as a lesser threat to their continued control than the present deep economic difficulties. Those men argued that the only way to avoid domestic explosions was by securing more Western technological and economic help in order to revitalize their sagging economies and give their people a better life.

In 1971 Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in improving east-west relations. In elections in 1972 the SPD led by Brandt gained its largest election victory ever. A dramatic anti-climax came in May 1974 when Brandt resigned shocked by the discovery that one of his personal assistants, Guenter Guillaume, was a spy for the DDR.

Until his death at age 78 on October 8, 1992, near Bonn, three years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Brandt remained active in German politics, the Socialist International, and as an international spokesman for better North-South relations.


Communication in the Midst of Crisis

One of the most fascinating aspects of Bahr’s backchannel meetings is their increasing frequency against the background of the Euromissile crisis and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Dialogue often tended to wane in crisis moments. Helmut Schmidt believed that it should be the other way around.

Increased tensions necessitated more dialogue: In 1978, 1980, and 1981, Schmidt and Brezhnev had three productive summit meetings. Their objective was to maintain the benefits of détente and to protect them against spillover effects from the Euromissile crisis. Preparatory efforts for all summits took place through the backchannel.

The evidence in Schmidt’s and Bahr’s papers also provides new information pertaining to the search for pan-European energy projects, which were seen as the most promising way to maintain a long détente in Europe. The Moscow Summit in 1980 paved the way for the construction of the single biggest pipeline for the transport of natural gas from the Soviet Union to Western Europe, despite the intermittent freeze in US-Soviet relations.

Schmidt’s and Bahr’s papers are unique sources that give a direct and unfiltered view on confidential talks that profoundly transformed the Federal Republic’s relations with the Soviet Union in a pivotal period of contemporary history. They demystify the conduct of backchannel diplomacy: It’s not about tricky games, it’s tedious work with lasting effect, and it’s all about trust building.


Watch the video: Willy Brandt und die Neue Ostpolitik I Geschichte