After saying that Germany and Europe can no longer rely on old allies, in effect slamming the U.S. and the UK, German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems bent on turning to unlikely and far away allies in Asia.
Merkel said in a passionate speech on Sunday that it was time for Europe to “take our fate into our own hands”, and it appears that being pro-active for her means pivoting to Asia to establish new trade partners and allies. Merkel is setting her sights on no less than the region’s biggest economies with their population- China and India.
Merkel has laid a warm welcome in her turf Germany for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a two-day tour of Germany. Modi will also embark on a European tour that includes stops in France, Spain and Russia. Conspicuously absent in Modi’s European itinerary is the UK.
The Indian Prime Minister joined Merkel yesterday for an informal meeting at Schloss Meseberg which happens to be the German Chancellor’s official country retreat. The office of Modi tweeted photos of the two leaders with a statement describing the meeting as “the bonds of a fruitful partnership.”
Modi’s visit will serve as a “stepping stone” for Germany and India to focus on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism measures, technology, skill development, infrastructure, railways, civil engineering and cleaner energy. There are issues in India, however, that the German business community feel should be addressed for a more conducive business environment including corruption, excessive red tape, skilled labor and lack of quality infrastructure.
After India’s Modi, Merkel is set to host next Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Berlin ahead of EU-China summit on Friday.
The back- to- back hosting of Asian leaders do not make for a complete pivot for Germany and Europe under Merkel’s leadership to Asia yet, but observers say the move sends a clear message that Merkel is determined to look for strategic partners for Germany elsewhere following her misunderstandings with Trump and the UK.