Baerbock’s inaugural visits: a first foretaste

To analyse

Status: 10.12.2021 8:01 p.m.

The crises of the world do not allow long acclimatization. Foreign Minister Baerbock also noticed this during her first inaugural visits. In Warsaw she has her first trial by fire.

By Christian Feld and Markus Sambale, ARD capital studio

When Annalena Baerbock comes down the stairs with her Polish colleague, the foyer of the Polish Foreign Ministry is jam-packed. Cameras and microphones are set up in several rows to capture the appearance of the new German Foreign Minister. It was foreseeable that after Paris and Brussels this part of the trip could be the most difficult. And indeed, here in Warsaw, Baerbock is getting a first foretaste of how things can go on the diplomatic floor.

Christian Field
ARD capital studio

Markus Sambale
ARD capital studio

Zbigniew Rau, the Polish ministerial colleague, behaved very charmingly behind a closed door, the German delegation can hear. Now, looking at the cameras, he strikes a different note. Baerbock is once again standing next to a significantly older man. Rau is 66, a law professor and foreign minister for almost a year. As a “slightly more experienced” colleague, he has a few insights on offer that one could well-meaningly describe as fatherly.

A situation that the Green politician will probably experience more often. Rau says: “Many of my theoretical ideas about my work have been corrected through ongoing practice.” And it should be even more violent. This press conference has a completely different temperature than the dates on the first day.

It has only been two days since Annalena Baerbock took her oath of office. Like it or not, her life is changing. The travel days are timed. She is now racing through Paris and Brussels in long motorcades. Government plane, landing, boarding, flashing lights, photo ops. Meeting rooms.

Nord Stream 2 is one of the many topics of Baerbock’s inaugural visit to Poland

Olaf Bock, ARD Warsaw, daily news 5 p.m., 10.12.2021

World crises do not allow acclimatization

The Federal Foreign Office’s protocol is caring but also strict. And: The crises of the world do not allow long acclimatization. The new German Foreign Minister jumps on the carousel of world politics, which is currently spinning with full force. The new German chief diplomat has a few messages in her luggage that run like a red thread through the days of travel.

The terms “common” and “European solution” keep coming up. For example, when asked about a possible diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games. Baerbock has resolved to listen and not run over the partners with their own fixed positions. It sends messages of continuity: NATO as an indispensable pillar of security. Full support for Ukraine.

Diplomacy as a long haul, not a sprint

Becoming a foreign minister is a process. A first trip is getting to know each other, getting to know each other, building relationships. Diplomacy is long haul, not sprint. A certain tension can be noticed in individual moments. Understandable and understandable. But her demeanor seems sure, she radiates joy in the new task.

The press conference in Warsaw is the first little trial by fire. The statement by the Polish Foreign Minister is getting longer and longer, the accusations against Germany ever sharper. A predecessor of Rau had already told a predecessor of Baerbock, Joschka Fischer, how wrong the Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline was. Nothing has changed about that. Does he want to test Baerbock? Challenge?

Different positions in the coalition

It’s a difficult subject. The positions within the traffic light coalition diverge. The Greens chairman Baerbock had recently criticized Nord Stream 2 in the ground. Foreign Minister Baerbock remains calm and refers to the common position in the coalition agreement. For her part, Baerbock does not spare the subject of the rule of law, where there are “discrepancies” that are “very, very large”. “It makes friendships to ask uncomfortable questions,” says the green. “Honesty and an open word must always be the focus.”

Then the ruthless schedule is pressing again. Wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Column. Blue light. The weekend doesn’t start in Berlin. Annalena Baerbock gets out briefly, gives the daily topics an interview and then sits back in the same machine. Goal: the G7 meeting in Liverpool. For the third time that day, she hears the pilot’s announcement through the loudspeaker: “We’re taking off.”

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