Jan Techau: Trump tries to prove that Russia is not able to manipulate him

Jan Techau: Trump tries to prove that Russia is not able to manipulate him

The Head of the European Bureau of the Vestnik Kavkaza, Orkhan Satarov, took part in an exclusive conversation of a limited number of journalists with the director of the Richard Holbrooke Forum for the Study of Diplomacy and Governance at the American Academy in Berlin, Jan Techau. Tehau is considered one of Germany's leading political experts specializing in German foreign policy and transatlantic relations. Vestnik Kavkaza offers the readers to get acquainted with the expert's opinion on the most acute problems of the world politics.

US foreign policy

”In fact, the US under President Donald Trump behaves towards Russia in a different way than it was supposed during the election campaign of the Republican candidate," Tekhau said. According to the expert, today the Trump administration has rather returned to the traditional American foreign policy line. This is due to the fact that Trump needs to prove at the domestic political arena that Russia is not in a position to manipulate him. Therefore, he demonstrates a tough position on the foreign policy front. "I do not think that at the moment there can be a real partnership between Russia and the West, there are some topics on which there is a mutual understanding, for example, the similar views on the fight against terrorism." Between Europeans and Russia there is a unity of approaches to Iran's nuclear problems, but it is not even worth talking about some kind of strategic partnership,’’- Tehau believes. The expert reproached Russia for the military demonstrations, as well as the attempts to influence the intra-European and intra-German political processes, in particular through social the media, influence on the parties and certain groups of the population (for example, Russian Germans). According to Jan Techau, this has led to the fact that today in Europe there is a unity on the issue of extending the anti-Russian sanctions, although initially this topic was a source of contradictions between the EU countries.

Nuclear weapons

Answering the question of Vestnik Kavkaza about the readiness of Europe and, in particular, Germany, to withdraw from the ‘military custody’ of  Americans and make a bet on the creation of their own nuclear weapons, Jan Tehau noted: "First, Germans must better understand , how much they are dependent on the nuclear deterrence. In the internal German debate on the foreign policy and security, this topic is hardly touched on. People do not understand that Germany today is not a subject to the nuclear blackmail just because it is under the umbrella of the US. The fact that Russia, being nominally the dominant power on the continent, de facto does not dominate Europe, is due to the nuclear protection from the US.  Germans do not understand this instinctively and the onset of this understanding would already be a progress. Maybe it will seem arrogant, but I actually think that most Germans do not realize this.’’ The second, the expert believes, Germany should discuss with other European partners the probability of what will happen if, at some point, the American "nuclear umbrella" disappears one day. "Now there is no such a threat, and President Trump did not put the American security guarantees in a question, but there is an uncertainty about how much we can rely on Donald Trump. If the US nuclear protection is no longer so obvious as before, then what should Europe do in this case? There are two European nuclear powers, France and the United Kingdom, while France has always stressed that its nuclear weapons are exclusively French, not European. But the UK has not commented on this issue at all. The question is how to organize the European nuclear deterrent without having to engage in the arms race This is an open question, and there are no discussions conducted in connection with it, and Germany should participate in the process of solving it,’’ the expert is sure. ‘’If Germany starts thinking about creating its own nuclear weapons, then there will be a massive nervous breakdown in the country for sure,” Jan Techau said, pointing out at the strong pacifist sentiments in the German society. "I also do not think that we should strive for this, but we must think about how it can be possible to organize the common European nuclear deterrence system without America, and this will not be an easy task,’’ the German political scientist concluded.

Nord Stream-2

"I object the Nord Stream-2 project for several reasons. First, it is not necessary for Europe's gas supply, and the second, this project creates a significant distrust on the part of the Central and Eastern European countries towards Germany, since the decisions, that are of strategic importance for them, are made without their participation. The US also does not understand what motivates Germany to advocate actively this project. The third, this project drives a strategic wedge between Germany and these countries, because the transportation of gas will be organized in such a way that the transit countries get out of the game and lose their strategic importance.The fact that Germans drive a wedge into a union of the countries connected by a "single energy fate" is wrong. In my opinion, this moment is decisive in the calculations of the Russian side, that is why it pushes the project so hard. It remains a mystery to me, why Chancellor Merkel so consistently defends the Nord Stream-2, although the energy profit for Germany is quite low, but the strategic losses are high. I think that Berlin should withdraw from the project, although Foreign Minister Zigmar Gabriel will say exactly the opposite. "

Relations between Europe and Turkey

The relations between Europe and Turkey are formed, first of all, not by the ‘deal on migrants’, but by the fact that Turkey is already a major European power and soon will become even stronger. Now in Europe we are witnessing a policy aimed at bringing the relations with this future European power onto a constructive track.  The relations with Turkey are being built not only for the immediate future, but also for the post-Erdogan era. The ‘migration deal’ with Turkey should be understood in a following prospect - Europeans has ‘paid off’ from the refugees by signing it. This can not be characterized in other way. Turkey regulates access to the Balkan route, and it should also be noted that most of the refugees were accepted by Turkey itself. And if we want to support the regulator of the Balkan route - Turkey - in a good mood, and provide that the refugees stay there further, then we have to pay Turks. This cooperation works fairly tolerably, Turks adhere to the deal, they accept the majority of refugees, and, of course, receive money. As a measure to curb the migration flow this agreement justifies itself, although this, of course, is an unstable game. It is noteworthy, that even in the midst of the contradictions with Europe, Ankara does not withdraw from this agreement, since it considers it profitable for itself. And so I think that the potential for blackmailing Europe by Turkey is not so high. If Turkey seriously threatened to break the deal, then such a potential would exist. But Turkey itself does not give any signs that it is not interested in the deal. A threat, of course, always exists, but in fact the both sides are interested in the deal.

As for the position of the German Federal Government and Chancellor Merkel, who did not grant President Erdogan an opportunity to speak before German Turks in Germany during his upcoming visit to Hamburg, in this situation the main role is played by the German election struggle. The Chancellor should try not to seem too friendly towards Erdogan. It would hurt her in the election campaign, while the current critical attitude towards Ankara is extremely popular in Germany. In addition, one can not ignore the mood in Berlin, where many parliamentarians have been angered Turkey because of its refusal to allow the Bundestag deputies to the Injirlik military base. It is noteworthy that the reaction from the Turkish side was much milder this time than during the previous refusals to provide the Turkish politicians an opportunity to make speeches in the German cities. Probably, Ankara also understands that the decision of the German government was made due to the electoral struggle above all. Obviously, Turkey itself is not interested in escalating. I think that for Erdogan this speech is not worth of creating a crisis.