EURSOC reports that the Chirac-Schröder love affair may be souring as Schröder realizes that France’s interests are not necessarily his own. The German economy is in the dumps, and Schröder’s SPD party has been getting slaughtered in a series of local elections.
The Germans are looking at reconciliation with the US and Britain in the hopes of getting some valuable concessions to help their economy and raise their world standing. The Germans have tentatively offered to help in Iraq and are slowly easing away from their previous tight ties with France in foreign policy. This will also help Germany repair their fractured ties with Eastern Europe. It is the east where the fastest economic growth can be found, and Schröder is realizing that he has more to gain from New Europe than from Old.
One German source complains of how Germany became a ‘prisoner’ of Jacques Chirac’s foreign policy during the build up to the Iraq war: “We were more dependent on the French in that situation. But this will not be a permanent situation.”
Another adds, “We have to be careful that we are not identified with every word that the French president utters. We must have our own identity and be a little more clever.”
So, what’s the plan? Well, Gerhard Schröder has been working on that transatlantic relationship again, taking a more conciliatory tone with president Bush. An invitation to Bush’s Texas ranch may be distant, but it is certainly a possibility (it is difficult to imagine M Chirac enjoying the president’s hospitality in the near future). Schröder should at least consider buying a pair of cowboy boots.
That would be a sight to see. In all seriousness, Germany has been treated like a junior partner in the Axis of Weasels, being led around the neck by Chirac and de Villepin. The results of this have been continuing economic weakness and further isolation from Eastern Europe, the UK, and the US. Schröder is realizing that Germany is an abusive relationship with France, and it may well be that he’s getting ready to pack his bags and tell Chirac to allez au diable – a move that would be a very wise one for the beleaguered German leader.