Angela Merkel, unquestionably the most powerful woman in Europe, and Stephen Harper have a close relationship. Merkel was instrumental in facilitating an EU/Canada free trade deal earlier this year.
Angela Merkel was raised in the former German Democratic Republic and is more aware than anyone else of the life under a Russian dictatorship. Stephen Harper is a strong support of Ukraine independence and is urging Germans and Europeans to take a stronger stance against Putin’s Russia.
While in Munich on Wednesday, speaking to a business audience, Harper had a solemn warning for Germans reminding them of the dangers posed by Putin, who has a Cold War mentality and has brazenly seized territory from a weaker neighbor.
He said he believes President Vladimir Putin still has that Cold War mindset, and said Europe must not regress to become a place where powerful nations invade their weaker neighbours.
He suggested Germans know this better than anyone.
A senior German diplomat described Harper’s comment as accurate, stating that Putin never accepted the disintegration of the former Soviet bloc. He said Putin views the Ukraine uprising as the second time Russia lost Ukraine.
On Wednesday President Obama urged NATO members and the EU to do more. The President is currently visiting Pope Francis at the Vatican.
During the visit on Thursday, both Merkel and Harper condemned Putin. Harper said that Putin does not want to be a partner and has decided to be a rival. While both leaders dismissed military action, Harper said that the issue had NATO’s attention.
Angela Merkel said if Putin does not meet the demands to deescalate the situation, he will face further sanctions from the international community, although they will hurt the German and European community. Germany relies heavily on Russia for its supply of energy.
When asked how much pain Germany would endure to enforce energy sanctions, Merkel dismissed the concern.
“I am quite relaxed, let’s put it that way,” she said.
Bill O’Reilly, last night on the factor, criticized Merkel for not doing enough, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Merkel has certainly asserted her influence within the EU and NATO. She recently addressed the German parliament (Bundestag) to gain support for tougher sanctions.
Harper’s visit today will reinforce Canada’s commitment to the Ukraine and bolster Angela Merkel in gaining support among Germans.