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So German …

Last, but not least, we look at German foreign policy in a different way: four foreign policy moments that are “typically German”

“As an Indian, I have a lasting memory of the quirky Bollywoodstyle video made by the former German Ambassador Steiner and his wife as they bid adieu to India a few years ago. The clip received a mixed reception in Germany, but was appreciated a lot in India. We do enjoy a bit of masala! While the video might not have been entirely ‘German’ in nature, it embodied a very crucial element of diplomacy: personal contact and connection between civilizations and cultures. In my years of working with the German foreign policy establishment in different countries, I have experienced this aspect of diplomacy in many positive ways and have come to greatly appreciate this side of what I consider so German.”
Ambika Vishwanath, Geopolitical Consultant and Water Security Specialist, Munich Young Leader

“Worn out from a busy schedule and days of heat and traffic in Riad and Tehran, a group of participants from the Bergedorf Round Table had just passed security at Imam Khomeini Airport. Our female colleagues and those with an Iranian background were particularly anxious about whether we would be able to pass security with ease and return to our lives since so many people in the past have not been able to. In the midst of all this exhaustion, tension and finally relief, and whilst waiting for airport personnel to accompany us to our gates, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General of NATO, and Christian Wulff, former Federal President of Germany, chose to engage in a deep conversation about Germany’s role in the world. Towering over them was a gold-framed portrait of no other than Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. And people think Germans aren’t funny. That was perfectly-timed comic relief.”
Omid Nouripour, Alliance 90 / The Greens, Spokesperson on Foreign Policy, German Bundestag

“Many accuse Germans of being solipsistic and treating German problems as European ones. I must have gone to 20 events last year where politicians said it was time Germany responded to Macron’s speech – without providing any answers themselves. A German friend said to me: ‘That’s so German’. But I think Germans are among the least inward-looking Europeans. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave a speech opening ECFR’s new Berlin office this year. Rather than talking about glory or rayonnement, he talked about the importance of challenging Berlin’s own perspectives and thinking of the perspectives of other Europeans. Can you imagine the Queen or even Emmanuel Macron telling their foreign policy people they should think less British or French?”
Mark Leonard, Co-founder and Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

“Before I had any interactions with Germans, I had always imagined them to be quite strict, not very outgoing, and always in business-mode. After being chosen as a Munich Young Leader in 2013, I stand corrected! My favourite memory of a ‘German’ foreign policy moment was the time my German colleagues took us to one of the famous beer halls in Munich, followed by dancing at a salsa club. The Germans were the most energetic of the group – whether discussing the German approach to the EU at dinner, or showing off their moves in a bit of ‘dance diplomacy.’ Now when I witness someone who can ‘do it all’ – have a laugh and still be ready to lead discussions first thing in the morning with energy and thoughtfulness – I think, ‘That’s so German!’”
Jasmine El-Gamal, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council, Munich Young Leader

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