In Brief... World News Review: Will Germany take reins of European Leadership?

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In Brief... World News Review

Will Germany take reins of European Leadership?

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Long perceived to be a leading European nation, is Germany poised to become the EU’s undisputed leader? The intelligence group Stratfor reported a significant development in its December 18, 2000, briefing that, in their words, “may shift the European balance of power.”

It’s no revelation that Russia is heavily in debt to many European nations, Germany included. With no hope of repayment in the foreseeable future, Germany has proposed to accept most of its compensation in shares of Russian companies. Russia and Germany have already agreed in principle to the pact, which is worth several billion dollars. The climate for forging a fiscal alliance is enhanced by the fact that President Putin speaks German.

Russia is disaffected with how it believes its relationship with the U.S. has gone-many cheers from the U.S. about the end to communist rule, but no real economic help. It’s not in the interest of the EU or Germany for Russia to fail. Beyond economic concerns, the EU views Russian strength and viability as added security on the EU’s eastern border at a time of increasing power among Islamic radicals.

A German-Russian economic “marriage” would benefit the EU in another way. Russia affords the EU with a Euro-Asian commerce corridor, cheaper and faster than any other.

Russia has few options. China can’t afford to help, even if it was so inclined, and Japan won’t in the face of unresolved territorial disputes with Russia.

How significant might this developing agreement between Russia and Germany be? Once in a great while, a single pact is so significant it has the potential to alter history’s course. This might be such a time.

Stratfor summarizes, “Assisting in Russia’s integration into Europe would result in Germany’s emergence as the larder of a united Europe with Russia on its side. Such a development would significantly weaken the U.S. influence in Europe. On the other hand, Chinese positions will be weakened as well, with Russia drifting away from it and toward Germany and Europe” (“Shifting Europe’s Power Balance,” December 18, 2000, Stratfor, Inc., emphasis added).

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