Armin Laschet, 59-year-old Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected as the new Chairman of the German Christian Democratic Union. He may also become one of the contenders for the post of Chancellor of Germany, replacing Angela Merkel. What changes should be expected in relations between Berlin and Moscow, and what the German public will learn about Russia - political scientist Alexander Sosnovsky
- Of all the candidates who ran for the post, only Laschet could realistically replace Merkel. He largely adheres to her views and the course she has set. The other two candidates, Norbert Röntgen and Friedrich Merz, are quite different. These are people, especially Merz, who are totally dependent on the US, who are under a certain moral and financial subordination. But Laschet, 7-8 years ago, when he was the head of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, already spoke very moderately about relations with Russia
- Can he become her successor as chancellor?
- Yes. He will remain her successor, he is ready to lead her line, including the completion of the Nord Stream 2. But there is no need to be flattered: it does not mean he will not be "taken in hand" and forced to change his line a little (or maybe a lot). So far he is unambiguously Merkel's successor. He will lead the party in that direction. Moreover, immediately after the congress, Merz offered himself to Laschet as economics minister - he was flatly refused. This, too, is an important signal that must be properly understood. Merkel's line remains unchanged for the time being.
- You mentioned the Nord Stream 2. How will Laschet build relations with Russia? In 2018 he said that the anti-Russian climate reigned in the country. Will he change this trend?
- He will, there is no doubt about that. It will not be easy for him because the general atmosphere is quite seriously poisoned by Russophobia from other parties as well. But he will try to change it.
And indeed, he has repeatedly said that it is impossible to achieve something by sanctions: "We must have a normal conversation and a normal dialogue with our neighbour". So I have no doubt that he will change relations for the better. The speed of these changes is not yet clear to me, but unambiguously he will move in this direction.
And what about German business? What are its expectations?
- The brightest in a certain sense, because Laschet is a good businessman and economist who understands what peace and stability of the society are based on. And for that peace of mind and confidence you need a well-functioning business. In this respect even his statements regarding the "Nord Stream-2" is generally a clear signal for the improvement of economic climate, for better conjuncture in the country, therefore many serious hopes are connected with him. And I think that his work in government has shown that he knows how to deal with business properly and draw the right conclusions.
- What is his position on Ukraine, the Crimea and Donbas?
- As for Crimea, here he is no different from other politicians and will stick to the line that Crimea and Donbass are "Russia's fault". But this is due to the fact that Germany understands its negative role in the Kosovo processes, when it was Hans-Dietrich Genscher who, at a stage when there was a question of the actual collapse of Yugoslavia, was the first to take a step towards Kosovo and the FRG recognized the independence of Kosovo. Therefore, they realize if they take the path of recognizing Crimea, Donbass, they will have to talk about their role in the recognition of Kosovo. They are trying not to remember it.
Interviewed by Oleg Osipov