On 27th February, Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared the Russian war in Ukraine to be a ‘Zeitenwende’ (historic turning point) for German security policy. Hitherto reluctant even to pursue the NATO goal and spend 2% of its GDP on defence, Germany would from now exceed this threshold year by year, invest an extra 100bn € into its army and, for the first time since 1945, deliver arms to a country in a state of war. Exactly what role Germany will play in international politics in the future remains to be seen – but chances are that it will be a very different role from the one it has assumed so far.

Against this background, we want to ask whether Germany needs to overcome its historical reservations about geopolitics and develop a more coherent geopolitical strategy. If so, what would such a strategy entail? Might it be a more traditional, power-based form of doing foreign policy, including a focus on improving armament? Or would there be room for a specifically ‘German’ approach, combining geopolitics with fields German diplomacy has prioritised since 1945, such as cooperation and economic negotiations? And what regions of the world should attract Germany’s attention most?

The speakers on our panel will bridge academic expertise and political practice:

  • Thomas Erndl, MdB, Deputy Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag
  • Professor Daniela Schwarzer, Executive Director for Europe and Eurasia at the Open Society Foundation and former President of the German Council on Foreign Relations
  • Dr Peter Wittig, former German Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the United States
  • Chair: Professor Brendan Simms, Director of the Centre for Geopolitics and author of numerous books on European history and politics

The panel is jointly organised by the Cambridge University German Society, the Centre for Geopolitics and the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung.