Bi-lateral relations, business, climate and other news from Germany and the Embassy
March 1, 2024 View online

Dear Readers,

February got off to a good start, with the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House. On the agenda: continued support for Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East, and the future of NATO, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. After his meeting with President Biden, Chancellor Scholz said that U.S.-German relations “are currently more intense, close and consensual than they have probably been for many decades.”

Back in Berlin, Chancellor Scholz met with Ukrainian President Zelensky to sign bilateral security commitments with Ukraine. Ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany remains Ukraine’s second largest military donor after the US. The latest package of military assistance is worth around €1.1 billion and includes urgently needed ammunition and air defense capabilities. Moreover, German leading defense contractor Rheinmetall announced that it will significantly expand its production of ammunition in Germany. This is an important step: In Ukraine, we have seen that defense needs a solid industrial basis.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock traveled to Israel for political talks for the fifth time since Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on October 7th, 2023. Along with other EU states, she also called for an immediate humanitarian pause in Gaza that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the provision of humanitarian aid. “If Hamas terrorists had any compassion for the Palestinian women, men and children suffering in the fighting, they would immediately lay down their weapons”, Baerbock said. Further Middle East news: the EU launched mission ASPIDES in the Red Sea to protect international shipping from attacks by Houthi rebels, alongside the US and other partners. Germany contributes a frigate and up to 700 soldiers.

Lest we forget, there is also a lot going on in the US-German economic relationship – with Microsoft investing in AI infrastructure in Germany, and German automotive company Schaeffler building a new facility in Ohio to produce EV components. Read more below!


The Germany in Americans-Team


United in their support for Ukraine: Chancellor Scholz meets with President Biden at the White House

In their third meeting at the White House, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden stressed the importance of continued support for Ukraine. They agreed that the US Congress should approve more financial aid for Ukraine. Scholz and Biden also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the importance of NATO, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. After the meeting, the Chancellor said that U.S.-German relations “are currently more intense, close and consensual than they have probably been for many decades.”

Read more here or watch here.

Chancellor Scholz in the Wall Street Journal: A Russian Victory in Ukraine Would Imperil Us All"

Prior to his visit to Washington, DC, Chancellor Scholz published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. He emphasized the critical importance of preventing a Russian victory in Ukraine, highlighting the potentially dire consequences for Ukraine's freedom and independence, as well as for the stability of Europe and the rules-based international order. He acknowledged President Biden's leadership in rallying support against Russian aggression, noting that Putin failed to achieve his war aims because of Ukraine's resilience and Western support. Scholz highlights the substantial financial and military assistance provided by the European Union, the United States, and Germany.

Read more (paywall) here or a summary here.

Germany and Ukraine sign bilateral security commitments and Germany provides more military aid

Germany signed bilateral security commitments with Ukraine, following the G7 countries' decision last year to enter into such agreements. These commitments reaffirm Germany's long-term support for Ukraine and send a signal to Russia that we are in for the long haul. The agreement is politically binding and covers military, security and civilian areas such as economic cooperation and reconstruction. Moreover, at the Munich Security Conference, Defense Minister Pistorius reaffirmed Germany's long-term support for Ukraine and announced a new package of military assistance worth some 1.1 billion. It includes, for example, additional self-propelled howitzers, artillery ammunition, and air defense capabilities.

Read more here.

Rheinmetall builds new artillery ammunition plant

German defense contractor Rheinmetall is building a new artillery ammunition plant in Unterlüss, Lower Saxony, to meet increased demand for artillery shells in support of Ukraine. The plant, which represents an investment of 300 million, is expected to produce 200,000 shells per year and create 500 jobs. The development underscores efforts to bolster supplies to Ukraine and compensate for potential reductions in US support.

Read more here.

Anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine: German Foreign Minister calls for united front against Russia, visits Odessa

On the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock traveled to the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Brazil and to the United Nations in New York. The objective: to call on the international community to increase the pressure on President Putin to end the war of aggression. "If we care about a world in which every life matters in equal measure, it is up to each and every one of us to stand up against Russia’s war", the Minister said at a session of the UN General Assembly in New York. On the actual anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Minister travelled to Odessa, Ukraine to meet with her Ukrainian counterpart. Baerbock reiterated that Germany continues to support and stand by Ukraine.

Read more about the trip by Foreign Minister Baerbock to the G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro and the United Nations in New York here.

Read the speech of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the UN General Assembly here

Read more about Foreign Minister Baerbock visit to Ukraine on the anniversary here.


German politicians condemn Russian opposition leader Navalny's death

The news of Alexei Navalny’s death “shows once again how Russia’s has changed and what kind of regime is in power in Moscow”, German Chancellor Scholz wrote on X. Foreign Minister Baerbock called Navalny “a symbol of a free and democratic Russia”. The Federal Foreign Office summoned the Russian ambassador for a meeting in response to Navalny’s death. In addition, Germany and other EU states have proposed additional sanctions against Russia, in particular using a special EU sanctions instrument to punish human rights violations.

Read more here and here.

The 60th Munich Security Conference: An opportunity to reaffirm NATO’s collective defense

The Munich Security Conference is a leading forum for political and military leaders, security experts and the defense industry to discuss international security challenges. Above all, it stands for close cooperation across the Atlantic. At this year’s conference from February 16-17, the US was represented by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and several Members of Congress. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz used his speech to warn against any weakening of NATO's mutual defense guarantee, which he said would only benefit adversaries like Putin.

Read the speech by Olaf Scholz here.

Read more aobut this year's motto of the 60th Munich Security Conference and about the topics the German Foreign Minister focused on here.


German Foreign Minister and EU warn against Israeli military offensive in Rafah

Along with other EU member states, Germany reiterated its call for an immediate humanitarian pause in Gaza that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the provision of humanitarian aid. With regard to a possible Israeli offensive on the Gazan town of Rafah, German Foreign Minister Baerbock warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe in the making", as hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in Rafah and "cannot simply vanish into thin air". She also made clear that Hamas was inhumanely exploiting the situation. "If the Hamas terrorists had any compassion for the Palestinian women, men and children suffering in the fighting, they would lay down their arms immediately," she said. Baerbock returned to Israel for the fifth time since the Hamas terror attack on October 7. Prior to her departure, she emphasized that the fates of Israelis and Palestinians are intertwined and called for a two-state solution to restore hope for peace and security.

Read more here and here.

Read the Statement by 26 EU Member States here.

Germany participates in EU mission in the Red Sea

The German Navy is participating in the EU-led Operation ASPIDES in the Red Sea to protect international shipping from attacks by Houthi rebels. The German Bundestag approved the deployment of up frigate “Hessen” and up to 700 soldiers until February 2025. The area of operation covers the important axis between Asia and Europe, through which a large part of Europe's energy supplies is shipped. The aim of the operation is to secure the sea lanes and to defend against attacks, mainly from missiles and drones. The USA is also supporting the protection of civilian merchant ships in the region with Operation PROSPERITY GUARDIAN.

Read more about the mission here.


Microsoft invests billions in AI in Germany

Microsoft plans to invest more than €3 billion in cloud and AI infrastructure in Germany over the next two years. Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the plans a "good and encouraging investment" that proves Germany is an attractive place to do business. The plans will further increase Germany's competitiveness and the possibilities of using AI.

Read more here.

US on the verge of becoming Germany’s most important trading partner

The United States could overtake China as Germany's most important trading partner by 2025, according to the head of foreign trade at the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A key driver of this shift has been the growth of German exports to the United States, which were worth nearly 158 billion last year, or about 10% of Germany's total exports. Preliminary data shows that the value of trade between Germany and China last year was around 253 billion, while the US was close behind with a trade volume of 252.3 billion.

Read more here.

German automotive company Schaeffler to invest more than $230 million in Ohio

It's a good example of German companies' commitment to innovation and growth in the Americas. Schaeffler, a German manufacturer of automotive and industrial components, will invest more than $230 million in a new manufacturing facility in Dover, Ohio. The new facility will focus on the production of electric vehicle (EV) components and is expected to create up to 650 jobs by 2032, the company announced.

Find out more details here.

German-American partnership to advance digital technologies

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, based in Germany, is the world's leading applied research organization - and often at the forefront of innovative developments and research excellence. This month, the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) and the New York Center for Research, Economic Advancement, Technology, Engineering, and Science (NY CREATES), one of the world's leading research and development institutions for digital technologies and microelectronics, agreed to strengthen their collaboration. Through joint research projects, symposia, and workshops, the German-American partnership focuses on advancing innovation in digital technologies, energy technologies, and microelectronics. Fraunhofer IPMS, known for its expertise in advanced microelectronics, aims to complement NY CREATES' capabilities in semiconductor system development.

Read more here.


… that the European Soccer Championship will take place in Germany this year?

From June 14 to July 14, 2024, Germany will host the Men's European Soccer Championship. It's only the second time since 1988, and the first time the European Championship will be held in a reunified Germany. Germany starts in a group with Hungary, Switzerland and Scotland. This month, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock appointed former national team players as soccer ambassadors. The aim is to present the European model of diversity, freedom, mutual respect and sustainability - because these values are the secret of our success, both as a society and on the soccer pitch. Baerbock emphasized the importance of these values in society and in soccer, saying that a country in which parts of the population are excluded from participation will struggle to field a successful team.

Read more here


What, you haven’t heard of Gelsenkirchen?

This month, U.S. comedian Jimmy Kimmel joked about the German town Gelsenkirchen, where Taylor Swift's ERAS tour will stop for several concerts this summer. Jimmy Kimmel jokingly suggested that the city might not even exist because "nobody had ever heard of it. Believe us - it does! Among its many attractions: The Veltins-Arena, which is not only home to the German soccer team Schalke 04, but can also accommodate up to 65,000 visitors.

Watch German soccer club Schalke 04 showcase the appeal of the city here.

Read more about Taylor Swift plans to tour here.

Berlin’s Berlinale alternative: A Film festival in the back of a tax?

This month, movie lovers’ eyes were on the Berlinale, one of the largest public film festivals in the world that takes place in Berlin every year. Some of international cinema’s biggest names gathered at the Berlinale, which also honored U.S. director Martin Scorsese with a lifetime achievement award. But Berlin also hosted a less conventional event – the TaxiFilmFest. As the New York Times reported, the event included film screenings in a cab van, showing only cab-related films. The Times called it a “celebration of the cab’s iconic place in the urban cultural landscape” – but didn’t fail to point out that it was also a protest over the state of Berlin’s taxi industry.

Read The New York Times article here. (paywall)

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