Washington Watches as Newpolitik Takes Off

WASHINGTON, DC (October 7, 2016) – The Bertelsmann Foundation’s latest publication, Newpolitik, launched on October 6 in Washington. The compilation of nine essays aims to explain to American and European policymakers how and why decisions are made in Berlin. Experts from the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh, Germany and Brussels, Belgium authored the chapters, providing in-depth analysis of the current policy debate on specific issues.

More than 100 people attended the event, which was held at the historic Mayflower Hotel. Bertelsmann Foundation Board Members Liz Mohn and Aart de Geus also participated in the launch. German Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig set the stage for the discussion, highlighting that “Germany remains one of the most committed countries to the European idea,” despite the challenges ahead, including refugee movements and the looming Brexit.

A lively debate ensued, led by Deutsche Welle’s Washington Bureau Chief, Miodrag Soric. The participants spoke about the wide variety of policy issues discussed in Newpolitik. Jürgen Hardt, the Bundestag’s coordinator of Transatlantic cooperation and the CDU/CSU parliamentary group’s spokesman for foreign policy spoke candidly about Germany’s domestic political landscape. He predicted that the Free Democratic Party and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) will both meet the 5 percent threshold to hold seats in the Bundestag in 2017. According to Hardt, a new coalition is needed for 2017.

Stephen Szabo, executive director of the Transatlantic Academy in Washington spoke about Germany’s global role. According to Szabo, “Germany is a key European player,” but he questioned how global it can become.

Germany has learned that it can’t have economic relations with China without political relations.

Stephan Kornelius, international section head of the Süddeutsche Zeitung spoke about Germany’s increasingly global policy. He noted that in recent years his work has taken him more often to China than to North America, demonstrating a shift in Germany’s orientation. Kornelius noted, “Germany has learned that it can’t have economic relations with China without political relations.”

Finally, the speakers addressed the upcoming elections in the United States and what the results will mean for Europe, particularly in regards to Russia. Stephen Szabo noted that although Europeans sacrificed far more with the sanctions against Russia, the new U.S. administration could put the sanctions in jeopardy if Donald Trump were to win. Szabo predicted far more international engagement on Russia in a Clinton presidency.

Samia Yakub is the Director of Communications at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC