German MP on new foreign minister Heiko Maas: “He just takes what the US tells him”

"these are the lost years for a de-escalation policy and for German-Russian relations."

Alexander Neu addressing the Bundestag
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Alexander Neu: “Heiko Maas is an incapable and incompetent foreign minister” Former OSCE staff member Alexander Soranto Neu is, since 2013, a deputy in the Bundestag for the Left Party. In this interview, the politician talks about the new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), the Syrian conflict and German policy on Russia.

Mr Neu, the US, Britain, and France have apparently not achieved much in the rocket attack on Syria. 71 out of 103 missiles were shot down by the Syrian air defense. What did Trump, May and Macron want to achieve with this strike?

The US and its two allies have bombarded insignificant targets with this blow to Syria. Actually, sites of chemical weapons production should be destroyed. But I have doubts that chemical weapons were even produced there.

In recent times, we have seen close cooperation between Macron and Merkel. Yet the German government stayed out of the bombing of Syria. Is that a signal to Russia?

No, that is not a signal to Russia, not at all. Especially under the new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the situation and the relationship with Russia is getting even worse and even more difficult. Heiko Maas is unfortunately a hardliner. In the current state of the Bundeswehr, Germany could not contribute anyway.

What course is the new Foreign Minister pursuing?

Sigmar Gabriel deserved to be replaced as Foreign Minister. He is responsible for most arms exports in the period. But Heiko Maas is no improvement in terms of escalation policy towards Russia. He is a hardliner. He is an incapable and incompetent foreign minister. He just does not know the situation. I have the impression that he is unable to analyze politics. He just takes what the Americans, British, and French tell him. and adopts it without analysis. That does not speak for a self-confident and competent appearance.

Is a foreign policy reorientation to be expected in the Federal Government?

Germany will keep on intensively pursuing the goal of NATO remaining the primary military alliance. With regard to Russia, nothing will change. We have a Cold War 2.0. In this respect, these are the lost years for a de-escalation policy and for German-Russian relations.

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European and especially German politicians are increasingly talking about the need to build an EU army. What should be achieved with that?

A parity is to be achieved. On the one hand, NATO is the most important body for military-based interests. On the other hand, the European Union claims to be an economic and military superpower. The EU wants to preserve its freedom to act independently. However, the EU and the envisaged army are not a defense union, but a tool to blackmail other peoples, other societies and other countries around the world with military pressure.

Mr. Neu, would you say that Russia should behave differently towards the EU?

Russia took many steps between 2000 and 2007 to build a partnership with Germany and Europe. This was also made clear by President Putin at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, which showed, with the Georgian War, that there is also a red line. I believe that Russia made a lot of offers but was not heard, which is very regrettable. Nevertheless, it is necessary for Russia to submit its offers further and to do so in such a way that the German public and the public in Europe are also aware of it. Most people are not aware that Russia has submitted a variety of offers of cooperation to Berlin and Brussels. Here the information policy is important so that we recognize that there is an outstretched hand from the Russian side.

The developments in Syria raise the question of whether the United Nations is still able to solve complex geopolitical problems.

Yes and no. The problem of the blockade of the UN Security Council is not new. This was also an issue during the Cold War. However, since then we have experienced a geopolitical and geo-economic shift. We see that we no longer have a monopolar world order as in the 1990s. Instead, we see that the monopolar world order is turning into a multipolar one. The UN Security Council has to be able to reflect that, and so far this is not the case. France and Great Britain are no world powers – and no more great powers any more. These are industrialized nations with some military potential. That’s why they are not allowed to have a veto right like Russia, USA or China. What is needed is a UN reform that will ensure that the power and power relations are adequately reflected.

Thank you for the interesting interview, Mr. Neu.

Alexander Sorkin conducted this interview for

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