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Germany

Merkel Wants US-Style Security Advisor

If the conservative Christian Democrats win the upcoming elections, Angela Merkel is planning to install a security advisor in the chancellery to increase the head of government's influence on foreign policy issues.

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"Now, Angela, look where Condi got me today"

Being granted a 45-minute talk with US President George W. Bush in the White House last week, German senior Christian Democrat (CDU) member Wolfgang Schäuble seized this once-in-a-lifetime occasion and promised that a new conservative government in Germany would fundamentally change current foreign policy priorities.

He said a government lead by CDU chief Angela Merkel would strive to rectify bilateral relations which reached a post-war low over the US-led war on Iraq.

Mending broken ties

Wolfgang Schäuble Pressekonferenz in Hamburg

Wolfgang Schäuble received a warm welcome in Washington

Confirming Schäuble's announcement in Washington, Angela Merkel said in Berlin that a Berlin-Paris-Moscow axis as courted by Social Democrat chancellor Gerhard Schröder would not be the way to move forward, as it was more often than not directed against the US administration

"It's gratifying to see that we've good relations with Russia and friendly relations with France," Merkel said.

"You can take it for granted that a future government led by a Christian Democrat chancellor, would aspire to keep these good relations intact or improve them wherever needed," she said.

But Merkel has been very critical of the way the German government under Gerhard Schröder has approached transatlantic relations.

"I don't understand why previously excellent relations with the United States had to worsen to the extent known to all of us just because of our good ties with other nations," Merkel said.

Friendship, but no servitude

Schröder Regierungserklärung

Chancellor Schröder won the 2002 re-election greatly thanks to his opposition to the US invasion of Iraq

Chancellor Schröder, on his part, made it clear that for him friendship did not equal total obedience.

"It's been our firm conviction that friendship with another nation does not rule out being of a different opinion once in a while and does not rule out pursuing another foreign policy, if need be," Schröder said. "It's never been our idea to say yes to everything that comes our way, and we're not planning to change this in future either."

Merkel keeps stressing that loyalty in the transatlantic alliance is a great virtue. And she doesn't want to leave anything to chance, should she become Germany's next chancellor after September's likely election.

Gaining control of foreign policy

Friedbert Pflüger

Will Friedbert Pflüger become Angela Merekl's security advisor?

In order to gain more direct influence on important foreign policy issues, she's planning to have a security advisor at her side in the chancellery. CDU foreign policy spokesman Friedbert Pflüger is being viewed as the most likely candidate for this post.

There had also been talk about Angela Merkel wanting to install a separate ministry for European affairs, but the latest reports say these plans are now off the table.

Either way, Merkel's plans are going to hurt the opposition Liberal Democrats (FDP) as the CDU's likely junior partner would claim the post of foreign minister. It stands to reason that both a ministry for European affairs and a security advisor in the chancellery would leave the foreign ministry with considerably less power and influence.

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