[Relations between Europe and Russia are] worsening [but Europe has] limited options. There is a great deal of concern across Europe about the mistreatment of Russian civil society by the Kremlin. You can read the [awarding of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Alexei Navalny] as a signaling from the European Parliament that they take the plight of civil society in Russia very seriously.
[Three out of the five eastern states already have three-way governing coalitions, and the rise of the AfD could make governing even more complicated]. I wouldn't exclude four-way coalitions in the future. Ultimately, the democratic parties there do need to ask themselves what environment they created for this to happen.
[The AfD's] sheer existence makes two-way coalitions on the national level almost impossible. We are looking at the possibility of protracted coalition negotiations and an inward-looking German capital at a time when I would argue German responsibility in Europe is urgently needed. That is one significant impact the AfD has, whether it is in the opposition or not.
Merkel cares strongly about policies, relationships, and institutions. [...] But she is that rare thing: a politician who isn't needy or vain. If she cares about her legacy, she cares about the outcome, not about what that means for her image.
[Merkel's] careful incrementalism [...has seen Germany through several crises, but it increasingly appears inadequate to the current challenges... Her] exquisitely tempered balancing style was fantastic for brokering results at European conferences. It’s clearly not the best approach when you are dealing with aggressive authoritarian powers, and she has clearly not given enough thought to preparing Germany for a much more disruptive future. [...] The absence of a leader as experienced, resourceful and well-networked as Angela Merkel will make itself felt in times of disruption and insecurity.
We’re not islands. The decisions of our allies have consequences for their allies. You get this impression that people are making policy into a void when there should be coordination. [...] What people will overlook is that an entire generation of western practitioners [including military officers, diplomats, intelligence officials and journalists] went through Afghanistan. This is NATO’s most legitimate mission, the one that was most central to our understanding of ourselves.
[Public broadcasting in Germany] started off as a means of democratic reeducation and rerooting political pluralism in Germany, and then morphed into a means of preventing new forms of disinformation or propaganda, particularly from the East.
Managing China’s rise will require using our considerable trade, technological and regulatory leverage to delineate clearer red lines. That is where Merkel has been overtaken by shifts in expert and also public opinion.
It’s important to talk to [authoritarian leaders] with a straight face, to not succumb to their tricks, not give them more airspace than is absolutely necessary, but allow them to put their positions out there and refute them calmly one by one. I think that’s what grown-up democracies do.