After 16 years of Angela Merkel, a new coalition government has been formed in Germany.
In the new government, referred to as the “traffic light coalition” given the colors of the constituent parties, the prime ministership was given to the Social Democrats (red), the Ministry of Finance seat to the neo-liberal FDP (yellow), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs seat to the Green party (green).
The 177-page document outlining the coalitions plan and agenda includes tips on a range of policies and issues, including post-Merkel foreign policy, energy policy, financial affairs, the European Union, asylum seekers, and immigration.
The policies that will be enacted by the new German government are of great interest to Turkey, due to both the 4 million people of Turkish origin living in Germany as well as the high trade volume between the two countries.
WILL HUMAN RIGHTS BECOME A CRITERIA FOR FOREIGN POLICY?
The most striking element of the coalition protocol is that the new government will bring human rights and environmental issues to the fore when formulating foreign policy. This issue will now likely be part of negotiations, especially in economic relations with Russia and China.
However, to what extent the human rights and environmental criteria will be effective is still unclear. The clearest example of this is the fact that the Nord Stream project, which will bring Russian gas to Germany, has not been included in the protocol due to disagreements between the coalition parties. The Greens officially oppose Nord Stream, but they refrain from bringing the issue forward lest it “prevent the formation of a government.”
Likewise, it is unclear how much the racist policies against Uyghurs in China, which amount to genocide, will affect Germany’s relations with Beijing.
In terms of relations within the European Union, the protocol clearly states that Germany will abide by and demand rule of law. The first test of this will be whether the German government will raise the issue of an “independent judiciary” when disbursing 19 EU aid packages, in particular to Poland and Hungary.
Emphasizing the NATO alliance, the protocol states that relations with the UK will remain a priority despite the UK leaving the EU. The coalition government will also develop relations with Taiwan, openly criticize the Lukashenko regime in Belarus, and prioritize security issues. It plans to act in tandem with the western NATO alliance.
“GREEN TRANSITION” FOR ENERGY STRENGTHENED
The new German government, considering the global climate crisis, has brought the transition to a green economy initiated in the Merkel era to the fore. As such, all coalfired thermal energy plants in the country will be closed by 2030, at the latest. This date was set as 2038 during the Merkel period. Further, according to the coalition protocol, 80% of the energy used by Germany by 2030 is expected to come from renewable and clean energy sources.
The protocol also says that Germany will stop using gas by 2040, will not allow for the use of gas in heating systems in new buildings, and will convert the heating systems in old buildings to renewable systems by 2030, at the latest.
Will the “Democratization” requirement come for Turkey?
AS FOR TURKEY…
All three parties that comprise the coalition are harshly critical of the decline in democracy, rule of law, and human rights in Turkey. Whether this will cause a problem in relations with Turkey, or whether a relationship similar to the pragmatic one between Erdogan and Merkel will be established by new PM Scholz, especially with regards to Syrian and Afghan asylum seekers, remains to be seen. However, we should remember that Green Party PM Scholz’s position will be harsher than Merkel’s due to his party association.
The fact that the new German government has included in the protocol a recognition of dual citizenship with Turkey is good news for Turks living in the country. Formerly, the German government only recognized dual citizenship with EU countries and Switzerland. If the new government keeps its promise, the path to citizenship will be opened to all people of Turkish origin living in Germany.
The announcement of a “score-based” citizenship law will replace a harsh immigration policy is also an indicator of Germany’s desire to move to a more liberal immigration system.
Another issue that directly concerns Turkey in the German coalition protocol is the minimum hourly wage determined for employees. Currently, the minimum wage in Germany is 9.19 euros per hour. The new government plans to increase this to 12.
The economic policy pursued by the AK Party administration aims to fill at least part of the vacuum left in the supply chain due to China’s tensions with the West. As part of the policy described by President Erdogan as “interest is the cause, inflation is the result,” while the Turkish lira plummets against foreign currencies, wages of Turkish employees have become very “cheap” compared to their counterparts abroad.
While Germany is increasing the minimum wage, the decrease in cost of the labor force in Turkey due to the foreign exchange rate in Turkey seems to be beneficial for the AK Party government at first glance, but democracy and human rights criteria may eliminate this possibility.
Without taking steps towards democratization and human rights, it seems unlikely that the AK Party government will be able to bring foreign investment to the country simply by cheapening the workforce in Turkey.