Friday 20th August 2021
As a farewell, Putin hands Merkel flowers
In the 16 years of her chancellorship, Angela Merkel has talked a lot with Putin. Even if she has achieved little tangible on her many visits to the Kremlin: The conversation with Russia has never ended. She committed herself to this maxim on her last visit.
Smiling and with a bouquet of flowers, Vladimir Putin approaches Angela Merkel. The Chancellor came to the Kremlin at noon for what is likely to be her last visit – and the Russian President welcomes her politely and charmingly, despite the frosty relations between Moscow and Berlin.
In the long years of governing, Merkel and Putin have come closer than they should like. Over the years, the Chancellor has endured Putin’s mixture of strength and charm with that mocking detachment that she has acquired for dealing with all too vain men. Merkel let Putin’s provocations run nowhere, she accepted his power games and yet never let the conversation break off, no matter how bad the relationship was. At the last meeting, too, Merkel advocated continuing the dialogue with Russia despite the current “profound differences”.
Merkel and Putin – an unequal couple. Their relationships have never been good; they are currently in a state of increasing alienation. Trust has not grown between the two – rather a kind of respect based on the fact that both of them know what to expect from the other.
Putin: “You honestly try”
The FDP foreign expert Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a long-time expert on German-Russian relations, credits Merkel with the fact that the power politician Putin has accepted her as a partner on an equal footing. In her 16-year term in office, Merkel has “gained a lot of respect, including from Russian President Putin,” says Lambsdorff.
Putin can be charming in relation to the Chancellor. Sometimes he gives her flowers, sometimes he helps her into her coat. Of course, if he wants to annoy her, he scares her with a dog – as happened in 2007 with his Labrador “Koni”. “I trust her, she is a very open person,” Putin said of Merkel a few years ago. “She is making an honest effort to resolve the crises.” The Chancellor is not aware of any similar statements about Putin.
What Merkel thinks of him personally, she keeps to herself. If she wants to publicly show him boundaries, she does so with cool mockery – for example in 2012, when Putin angrily ranted critical journalists at a joint event and Merkel dryly replied to the Kremlin gentleman: “If I were always upset, I couldn’t do three Days to be Federal Chancellor. ” That sat.
When it comes to human rights, Putin is annoyed
Even if there was often not much going on politically with Putin – Merkel always relied on the conversation. On an earlier visit to Moscow, she once put it this way: “Our friendship will not improve if we sweep everything under the rug and not discuss it.” And when Merkel then pulled issues such as human rights and freedom of the press from under the carpet, Putin liked to react demonstratively annoyed.
Merkel has certainly talked a lot with Putin – the visit to Russia on Friday is her twentieth as Chancellor. When speaking, however, she has achieved little, complains FDP politician Lambsdorff: “Chancellor Merkel has not succeeded in developing a western answer to the geopolitical power game and the targeted fake news campaigns in Russia, which have been shown to severely damage our value system.”
So what remains of the relationship between the two? Probably at least the realization that such a German-Russian duo will no longer exist. Both speak each other’s language. They share the experience of life in the declining GDR, when Putin served as a KGB officer. And the sheer duration of their exercise of power alone ensured that the two of them finally occupied a special position on the world stage.