The House

G20 tensions and Europe after Merkel

Germany's ambassador to Canada Sabine Sparwasser discusses the tensions at the G20 summit and looks ahead to Europe after Angela Merkel steps down.

Germany's ambassador to Canada said Russia's move to deploy new missiles to Crimea after sparking a confrontation with Ukrainian naval vessels last week has upped the ante at the G20 summit.

"It does raise tensions at a delicate time," Sabine Sparwasser told Chris Hall in an interview airing Saturday on The House.

And once again, her country's chancellor Angela Merkel is coming to the rescue.

"She's seen by many people as always the adult in the room," Sparwasser said of Merkel, who has been in power since 2005. 

"The chancellor has been crucial in managing tensions around Ukraine and the relationship with Russia over the last four, five years. I do believe this is something she'll work on now at the G20 summit."

Sparwasser added that Germany, which was the first country to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, will also continue to call for a "thorough, credible, transparent investigation" into the journalist's death.

Merkel prepares to say auf wiedersehen 

But Merkel's long run as chancellor — and Europe's de facto adult in the room at summits and gatherings around the world — is coming to a close.

The German leader announced earlier this fall that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2021, and that she will leave the leader of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, at the end of this year.

Party members will choose her successor Dec. 8, adding pressure on Merkel to potentially step down as chancellor soon after.

Sparwasser said Merkel's leadership style and pragmatic voice will be hard to replace not just in European politics, but globally.

"She stands for a sober, non-authoritarian, cooperative, reasoned style of leadership, and I think that is something everybody looks to," she said.

Merkel's strong condemnation of nationalism in a speech last month in Germany's parliament captured international attention at a time when populist leaders are gaining support worldwide.

"Populism and nationalism seems to be a phenomenon of the times," said Sparwasser. "No country seems to be immune. You see it all across the world."

Sparwasser attributed it to "a reaction to the insecurities of globalization."

"You fall back on the things you know best and you fall back on simple answers, and nationalism is a simple answer. But it is the absolute strict opposite of what Angela Merkel and Germany stands for."


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