Germany’s changing Baltic policy: competing norms in German foreign policy in light of the Ukraine crisis
Bremen, Mikko von
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Since the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War the scholarly debate about continuity and change in German foreign policy is controversial. This study follows the assumption of continuity in German foreign policy and chooses an constructivist approach to analyze the influence of domestic foreign policy norms on Germany‘s approach toward the three Baltic states. It is argued that regarding the Baltic states Germany’s continuity of Ostpolitik and Westbindung lead to different types of policy. With the EU and NATO membership of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 2004, the German approach toward the Baltic states is since then characterized by two competing foreign policy norms. In light of the Ukraine crisis and the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 by Russia, this study argues that the competing norms in German Baltic policy devises different responses to the increasing security concerns of the Baltic states. In a cross-temporal case comparison this study show how different aspects of German Baltic policy are carried out before and after 2014. Drawing on constructivist scholarship these changes are explained by a changing domestic norm prioritization that is captured by analyzing parliamentary debates of the German Bundedstag. By linking the aspects of German Baltic policy to the normative expectations of Ostpolitik and Westbindung based on parliamentary debates, it is suggested that prior to March 2014 the German Baltic policy was more likely driven by the norm of Ostpolitik whereas after March 2014 the norm of Westbindung was prioritized.