German President Frank Walter Steinmeier warned in his address on the state of the country that “difficult years” lie ahead for Germany. In addition, Steinmeier warned that with the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the “time” of confrontation with Moscow has opened.
“Today’s Russia leaves no room for old dreams,” Steinmeier said, referring to the past phase of rapprochement between Moscow and Berlin. Successive German governments, including those of Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder and conservative Angela Merkel, of which he himself served as a minister, have helped maintain this close relationship with Russia in the past.
Believe in the strength of Germany
The morning of February 24, the day Russia’s “brutal aggression” against Ukraine began, “changed the world” and produced a “sudden change of era,” Steinmeier continued. After decades of prosperity and economic strength, from the reunification of Germany until today, the country is facing “difficult years”, economically and politically, resulting from war, violence, with millions of refugees and the fear of an “extension” of that war.
Steinmeier called on his fellow citizens to believe in the strength of Germany, a “strong country”, and in their own strength, in order to overcome the current situation. He also appealed to politicians to establish the necessary measures to mitigate the consequences of the current economic situation and inflation among families with more modest incomes.
“Those who have the most must help prevent the increase of social inequalities,” he said, after repeatedly referring to what he called “the center of society” and warning of the growth of populist and far-right currents that feed on social discontent.
Steinmeier also emphasized the need for Germany to equip itself with a “strong army”, in line with its responsibility as the largest country in Europe. This army must have “the support of the entire German society”.
On the other hand, the German president expressed support and understanding for EU and NATO partners who fear aggression, such as the Baltic countries or Poland, and reminded that Germany, despite the consequences of the conflict, “is not a country at war.
First visit to Ukraine after a failed attempt
Steinmeier’s speech comes days after his first visit to Ukraine, months after seeing his intention to travel to Kyiv with other European leaders frustrated, as the country’s authorities deemed his presence “undesirable” as Steinmeier was identified in Kiev with over the “pro-Russian” line.
The current president was chancellor office minister under Schröder, Putin’s friend and political ally, and then Merkel’s two-term foreign affairs chief. During the period with Schröder, the construction of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline was conceived, which was put into operation in 2011, the same year when, already under Merkel, it was decided to build Nord Stream 2.