Russia's Foreign Policy Towards Germany's Demand for a Permanent Seat in the UN Security Council Term Paper

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Russia's foreign policy towards Germany's demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council

The Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union may have been consigned to the historical dustbins of failed experiments, but the Russia that emerged from these fiascoes retains many of the same problems and foreign policy goals of its former empire. Likewise, the Germany of today may not resemble the divided nations that existed a few years ago, but its foreign policy goals have changed in substantive ways. As the nations of Europe continue their inexorable march towards a United States of Europe (GmbH), Germany stands to play an increasingly important role in world affairs, challenging the former Soviet Union's global leadership role in unprecedented ways. Clearly, there are some fundamental differences involved in how these two countries view their evolving roles and mutual relationships, as well as how their respective foreign policy initiatives reflect their views concerning Germany's demand for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. This paper provides a discussion of the key issues and disputes in this demand, a description of the historical sequence and context of these events, an identification of the respective interests and goals of the parties involved, and a discussion of the various policy alternatives under consideration. A summary of the research and salient findings will be provided in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Key Issues/Problems/Concerns.

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Russia. "While some progress has been made on the economic front, recent years have seen a recentralization of power under Vladimir Putin and the erosion of nascent democratic institutions. A determined guerrilla conflict still plagues Russia in Chechnya and threatens to destabilize the North Caucasus region" (Russia 2). While Russia has achieved some economic progress in recent years and the national poverty level has fallen somewhat, there are some serious issues facing the country today; these include:

Economic growth slowed to 5.9% for 2005 while inflation remains high;

Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices;

Term Paper on Russia's Foreign Policy Towards Germany's Demand for a Permanent Seat in the UN Security Council Assignment

Russia's manufacturing base is dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve broad-based economic growth; weak banking system, a poor business climate that discourages both domestic and foreign investors, corruption, and widespread lack of trust in institutions.

A string of investigations launched against a major Russian oil company culminated in the arrest of its CEO in the fall of 2003 and the acquisition of the company by a state owned firm which has raised concerns by some observers that President Putin is granting more influence to forces within his government that desire to reassert state control over the economy.

State control has increased in the past year with a number of large acquisitions. Most fundamentally, Russia has made little progress in building the rule of law, the bedrock of a modern market economy (Russia 3-4).

Germany. Today, Germany is enjoys the largest economy and is the second most populous country in Europe; not surprisingly, "Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations" (Germany 3). Some of the most glaring issues facing Germany today include its stagnating economy, attributed in large part to the country's generous social programs and the enormous investment required to recover from the reunification of the divided nations. This investment has helped Germany become well situated to improve its economic base in the future, and enhance its leadership position as well. All is not completely coming up roses in Deutschland, though, and U.S. government analysts report that the following issues confront Germany today:

The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term process, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $70 billion;

Germany's aging population, combined with high unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions from workers;

Structural rigidities in the labor market - including strict regulations on laying off workers and the setting of wages on a national basis - have made unemployment a chronic problem;

Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could allow Germany to meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization, particularly if labor market rigidities are further addressed; however, these analysts also note that in the short-term, the decline in government revenues and the rise in expenditures have raised the deficit above the EU's 3% debt limit (Germany 3-4).

Recent and Current Policy.

Respective Goals of Russia and Germany, Their Rationale and Relative Importance.

Clearly, any discussion of foreign policy initiatives today must taken into account which country has the most economic clout to help achieve its goals. While many observers may attribute more influence to the Russia giant because of its size and historic role in world affairs, the respective - and disparate -- economic influence of Russia and Germany in recent years can clearly be seen in Table 1 and Figure 1 below.

Table 1.

Total value of exports (f.o.b.; '000,000 U.S.$) - Germany vs. Russia - 1995-2000.

Germany

Russia

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica World Data Analyst, 2006.

Figure 1. Total value of exports (f.o.b.; '000,000 U.S.$) - Germany vs. Russia - 1995-2000.

Source: Based on tabular data in Encyclopedia Britannica World Data Analyst, 2006.

German Foreign Policy. In recent years, German foreign policy has always been that the country did not want to have to choose between France and Europe on the one hand and the United States on the other (Sands 6), but the nation has increasingly sought a more active leadership role in regional and global affairs. A speech before the UN General Assembly on September 25, 1996 by the German Foreign Minister Kinkel articulated the evolution of German foreign policy responsibilities. According to Lantis (2002), "Reaffirming Germany's commitment to multilateralism, Kinkel called on the member states of the UN to take decisive action to bolster the organization's effectiveness and efficiency" (133). At that time, the German foreign minister also reported that Germany would support an extension of the mandate for the Implementation Force (IFOR), a NATO-led multinational force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (IFOR 1).

The German foreign minister also reported that the country would support the IFOR mission beyond its planned expiration in December 1995, and would maintain its commitment to the preservation of peace in Bosnia (Lantis 124). Furthermore, during this speech, Kinkel characterized Germany's contribution to the IFOR operation as being "altruistic multilateralism" by suggesting that, "[No country, no region, and no group of states can bear all of the world's burdens and troubles alone"; it was at this point that Foreign Minister Kinkel ended his speech with a demand the assignation of a permanent seat on the Council to the Federal Republic of Germany (Lantis 124).

Russian Foreign Policy. In some ways, it is difficult to assess Russia's foreign policy accurately, because - like his U.S. counterparts - it has not been succinctly articulated to date (Gorodetsky 12). According to Jackson (2003), this paucity of solid foreign policy is not surprising given the nature of the country's internal affairs in recent years: "After the collapse of the Soviet Union there was considerable uncertainty over Russia's identity, its new role in the post-Soviet space and, specifically, the course of action that would best further Russian interests in the 'near abroad' states" (2). The Russia of today is not the Soviet juggernaut of the past (Jackson reports that it retained about 60% of its geographic size and population), but it continues to wield a big stick on the UN Security Council which it is using to further its own interests in comparison to past years where a more cooperative tone was evinced. According to Cortright, Gerber and Lopez (2002), "One aspect of the recent assertion of power politics has been the shift away from what seemed to be a generalized commitment to sanctions cooperation among the Permanent Five members of the Security Council to a greater tendency by individual nations to use sanctions to serve more narrow national interests" (6). Furthermore, even the grudging participation by Russia in the Security Council's own war on terrorism directly relates to its own perceived national interests, in sharp contrast to Germany's perceived more humanitarian role (Cortright et al. 7). In this environment, it may appear that there are not viable alternatives for foreign policymakers in Russia and Germany, and the research suggests that this may in fact be the case; nevertheless, some potential options are always available in any given setting and these are discussed further below.

Foreign Policy Alternatives.

Russia. Some recent trends suggest that in the emerging European political framework, Russia is faced with the growing influence of Germany and France (in that order), as well as wanting to retain some level of amicable relationships with the United States because of the enormous potential trade implications involved. In fact, Russia has even engaged in an alliance of sort against the U.S.-led war against terrorism, but Germany appears to be warming up to the U.S. In recent months… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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