Alternative for Germany Party Leader Wants Exit From EU, More Cooperation With Moscow
19:14 GMT 12.07.2021 (Updated: 19:38 GMT 12.07.2021)
© AP Photo / Jens MeyerBjoern Hoecke, chairman of the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) in the German state of Thuringia, leaves after a press statement in Erfurt, central Germany, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017
© AP Photo / Jens Meyer
The popularity of the nationalist Alternative for Germany (Alternative fur Deutschland – AfD) party shot up dramatically from a state of virtual obscurity in the mid-2010s as Germans struggled to deal with the migrant crisis of 2015-2016, with the party winning 94 seats and becoming the third largest party in the Bundestag in the 2017 elections.
Germany has no choice but to leave the European Union and to create a “new European space” in which Russia will also have a place, AfD parliamentary group co-chair Tino Chrupalla has said.
“Germany should exit today’s European Union, which simply cannot be reformed, and establish a new European economic and interest group,” Chrupalla said in an interview with Welt published on Sunday.
The politician lamented that Germany’s post-World War 2 national identity and culture had been heavily influenced by the “psychological warfare of the Allies, especially the Americans,” which he compared to the Nazis. As an example of such malign influence, the politician cited Washington’s strategy of trying to torpedo the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Germany and Russia, suggesting that the US was pursuing “strategic interests” via a “deliberate strategy of disinformation and the manipulation of public opinion” in Germany.
Chrupalla went into greater detail on his party’s vision of a new association of European nations to replace the EU in an op-ed in the Junge Freiheit newspaper, rejecting the concept of an EU “superstate” in favour of a ‘Europe of fatherlands’. The EU, he suggested, had failed utterly in tackling several major emergencies, including the euro crisis, and the migrant and coronavirus crises.
10 July 2021, 14:39 GMT
The politician also clarified that instead of the concept of a UK-style ‘Gexit’, AfD’s policy was to support ‘Neustart’, or ‘Reset’ - a “common reset for Europe” which includes an invitation for all AfD’s European sister parties “to join us.”
On the prospect of improved ties with Moscow, Chrupalla emphasized in his op-ed that “a good relationship with Russia is not negotiable,” and that Russia is “an integral part” of Europe economically, politically and culturally.
The politician accused EU elites of “sticking to old Cold War thought patterns” about Russia, and noted that while “communism in Eastern Europe has long been defeated, European opinion leaders were importing new Western ideologies from the US ‘New Left’,” such as identity politics and its promotion of positive discrimination, resulting in social unrest which he stressed “must be overcome.”
“With Russia, a large European state and an important trade partner has been excluded from the European Union. Furthermore, at the insistence of our US partners, we are constantly imposing new trade sanctions on the Russians for new reasons,” Chrupalla wrote.
According to the politician, these restrictions ultimately come back and hit the German economy and medium-sized businesses, causing them to lose out as Russia replaces its imports from Germany with new trade ties with Asia. “Trade between Germany and Russia fell by 25 percent between 2013 and 2019, and in Saxony by 70 percent. It cannot go on like this!” Chrupalla argued.
Ultimately, the politician suggested that both countries would benefit if sanctions are lifted and new ones are ruled out. “Russia is also an integral part of Europe culturally and politically, and Germany always does well when it has good relations with Russia,” Chrupalla stressed.
Chrupalla’s views on foreign policy aren’t representative of the AfD as a whole, with party co-chair Jorg Meuthen recently suggesting that a German exit from the EU is a “poorly thought out idea.” The party is also traditionally in favour of close ties to the US and Israel, and of keeping Germany a member of NATO. Since its emergence as a major political force in the Bundestag following the 2017 elections, the party has experienced an intense internal debate regarding these and other policies.
Germans will go to the polls on 26 September for general elections to the Bundestag and multiple state parliaments. Longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to retire after the elections. A recent INSA/YouGov poll indicated that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union alliance enjoys a plurality of 28 percent support at the moment, with the Social Democratic Party and the Greens second with 17 percent support each. 12 percent of respondents said they plan to support the Free Democratic Party, 11 percent said they would vote for the AfD, and 8 percent said they plan to give their vote to the democratic socialist Die Linke. Like the AfD, Die Linke supports an improvement in Germany's relations with Russia. The party also has a firm policy of opposition to NATO and proposes to replace the alliance with a new collective security system for Europe with Russia as a member. Despite their ideological differences, AfD and Die Linke occasionally cooperate on certain issues.