By Robert Harneis –TDO-(FRANCE) The anti-Euro anti-immigration party the Alternatif fur Deutschland, AfD, has joined calls for an end to sanctions on Russia over Crimea. ‘Crimea will never return to Ukraine, sanctions will not help,’ said Gauland, who is the top AfD candidate in September’s general election. He added, ‘it would be right if Crimea was recognized as part of Russia.’ Referring to an earlier call by the leader of the much more mainstream Free Democrat Party, FDP, he commented ‘Mr. Lindner has already understood it’.
Christian Lindner the new young leader of the FDP had previously said that Germany may have to accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea saying ‘We have to get out of the dead-end situation’. In a phrase that will surely be treasured in the annals of political double speak he said ‘To break a taboo, I fear that we must see the Crimea as a permanent provisional arrangement, at least for now.’
Whilst no one is surprised that the AFD is calling for acceptance of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, Lindner’s comments from the FDP, a long-standing party of government, clearly upset Atlanticist political circles in Berlin. Germany's Russia policy coordinator, Gernot Erler of the SPD replied that Europeans had agreed to focus on ending the violence in eastern Ukraine before tackling the issue of Crimea in a political process later on. ‘It would be helpful if Mr. Lindner would also stick to this agreement,’ he said. ‘A common European approach is imperative, especially in light of President Trump's withdrawal from the previous consensus approach of the West.’
However hesitantly, Lindner is suggesting the exact opposite, calling for the issue to be ‘encapsulated’ and dealt with separately.
The statements from Gauland and Lindner reflect growing electoral resistance to continued and increasing sanctions against Russia, imposed on Europe by the United States. Sanctions that do the US no harm but have seriously damaged European and German business interests. Worse still, they do Russia no harm. German irritation has been increased by the recent new sanctions signed into law by President Trump that target the Russian energy field and therefore the proposed Nordstream 2 pipeline, which is important for Germany and other European countries.
Lindner’s FDP is battling to get back into the Bundestag which means they need to break the 5% voting barrier which they failed to do in 2013.
Gauland’s AfD was only founded in 2013 as a result of Angela Merkel going back on her undertaking not to fund any financial rescue for Greece. The party, which has won representation in every German state, is aiming to win representation in the German national parliament for the first time. The polls show the FDP and the AfD with around 8% of the vote each.
The polls show Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU as clear favorites to win on September 24 but there is every sign this is only because disgruntled voters can see no other trustworthy alternative. Merkel’s popularity has recently fallen sharply from 69% to 59%. Her nearest rival the former President of the European Parliament, SPD’s Martin Schultz is way behind her with 33% down 4%.