German Eurosceptics look back to Bismarck on foreign policy

Alternative for Germany calls for greater understanding in dealings with Moscow


in Berlin

The Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has called on Berlin to embrace a more robust, nationalist foreign policy in the tradition of Otto von Bismarck.

A week before federal elections, the party has attempted to broaden its voter beyond its core anti-bailout platform by arguing that it was time Germany learned from other EU members how to defend its national interests in Brussels.


"After the experiences of the Hitler years we Germans have a tendency to view the definition and pursuit of national interests as per se a bad thing," said Mr Alexander Gauland, a founding AfD member, in Berlin.

“This view is shared neither by our friends and neighbours nor our co-players on the world stage.”

Mr Gauland said it was time for Germany to look further than Hitler into its past for a reappraisal of the European politics of Otto von Bismarck, the Iron chancellor who united Germany.

In particular he said Germans should show greater understanding for Russia, given Russia's support for German interests over the centuries. Neither Germany nor Europe had an interest in a further weakening of "Russia and, with it, the entire Euro-Asian space".

“We Germans sometimes forget that Russia stood by Germany at important points in its history and defended Prussia from collapse,” he said, praising Russian support during the foundation of the German Reich in 1871 and German unification in 1990.

Mr Gauland said western European neighbours should show greater understanding for Moscow’s worldview and exercise “extreme caution” in bilateral relations.

While Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova were "indisputably" part of Europe, he said Russia had never gotten over the removal of "holy Kiev" from Russia.

“It is as difficult to imagine but only comparable to the separation of Aachen or Cologne from Germany,” he added.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin