The CEO of
German industrial giant Lind AG Wolfgang Buchele
Kerry to the annual German-American Friendship Dinner at the Käfer
restaurant above the
Bundestag: Strains were clear at the once convivial event.
Conference: U.S. and Germany Clash Over Salmon Canapés (Die Welt, Germany)
the diplomatic pleasantries and the cozy Bavarian hospitality, there is a topic
this evening that angers and divides the camps … German rejection of sending
weapons to Ukraine … Defense Minister Von derLeyen and Secretary Kerry greet
each one another only in passing. While over the past year, despite the NSA
affair, there were photos of a charmingly smiling Kerry and a beaming Minister von
derLeyen, a frosty silence
now reigns. A captured moment of the two standing beside one another never
occurs. Nor do they exchange a single word at the table where von derLeyen sits just a seat away. …
Dinner at the Käfer, the kick-off of the Munich
Security Conference, used to be called the German-American Friendship Dinner. But
this year, that seemed like a long time ago."
At the most exclusive event of the Munich Security
Conference, politicians and business leaders meet for a chat. Despite the
cheerful atmosphere, though, one thing is palpable: The glacial atmosphere
between two top politicians.
This is a summit held behind-the-scenes, and is usually quite
enjoyable: At the traditional dinner hosted by Linde
AG CEO Wolfgang
Büchel and lawyer Wolfgang
Seybold at the Käfer restaurant, top politicians, the directors of the
DAX, senior military personnel
and defense experts meet one another in a relaxed atmosphere.
As steak tartar canapés are being served, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, whose company only hours before announced massive
job cuts, talks to former Minister-President of Bavaria Edmund Stoiber about global competition. “This is just as much a
concern to Germans,” says Stoiber. Israeli Minister
of Intelligence and International Relations Yuval Steinitz offers words
of comfort to European Parliament President Martin Schulz on his
controversial speech to the Knesset.
Former Sweden Foreign Minister Carl Bildt
is drinking a Rheingauer Riesling (“Germans make
better wine than Swedes!”) with his former counterpart from Poland RadoslawSikorski. Wolfgang Porsche
pushes past an American four-star general, E.ON CEO
Johannes Teyssen and power couple Paul and
Ann-Kristin Achleitner are in attendance (he,
chairman of the Deutsche Bank supervisory board and she, a celebrated
professor), as well as Development Minister GerdMüller, UAE Foreign Minister
bin Zayed al Nahyan,
and E.U. High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
Yet for all the diplomatic pleasantries and the cozy
Bavarian hospitality, there is a topic this evening that angers and divides the
camps. It's the visit of Angela Merkel with President Vladimir Putin for which
she has been sharply criticized by Senator John McCain. Just having her go to
Moscow was a triumph for Putin, says an expert here.
Minister von der Leyen gets an earful from former Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright before getting the cold shoulder from John Kerry.
This is all about German rejection of sending weapons to Ukraine, the provision of which Defense Minister Ursula von derLeyen said would be an "accelerant"
during her opening speech at the Security Conference. An “absolute rookie foreign
policy mistake,” remarked one high-ranking German attendee. “How can one
negotiate if you make clear from the outset that there will be no consequences
regardless of the outcome?”
Posted by Worldmeets.US
At any rate, Minister Leyen appears
exceptionally tense when she appears at the dinner. When she joins former U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a bar table, she must immediately here
about everything the American didn’t like about her speech. However, the transatlantic
rift doesn’t become evident until John Kerry shows up an hour later.
Kerry’s crossed arms
and Kerry greet each one another only in passing. While over the past year,
despite the NSA affair, there were photos of a charmingly smiling Kerry and a
beaming Minister von derLeyen,
a frosty silence now reigns. A captured moment of the two standing beside one
another never occurs. Nor do they exchange a single word at the table where von
derLeyen sits just a seat
away. Instead, she remains so focused on her conversation with Deutsche Bank Chairman
who is seated opposite her, that it almost seems strained. Kerry chats with
arms crossed with Linde CEO Büchele.
Somehow this reminds one of the behavior of a newly-separated
Minister von der Leyen assiduously avoids an exchange with
Secretary of State Kerry by chatting up Deutsche Bank Chair Paul Achleitner,
as Kerry listens to Linde AG CEO Wolfgang Büchel.
John Kerry wouldn’t be American if he hadn't brought along
lots of optimism, despite the rather tense international situation. The Irish
wild salmon has just been served when he assures his companions that it’s not
all bad. Yes, these are times of change and challenge, but there are also
“The response to Ebola, for example,” said Kerry, "and
AIDS in Africa was also significantly reduced." And for Putin, “Will he
outlast us in Ukraine, or will we outlast him? I tell you, we can outlast him
if we remember who we are.” The Transatlantic Alliance will show what its
worth, he assures us. And, moreover, he could only praise the chancellor for
This is the absolute minimum in terms of diplomatic courtesy
and in plain language means he doesn't think particularly much of Merkel's
efforts. Dinner at the Käfer, the kick-off of the
Munich Security Conference, used to be called the German-American Friendship
Dinner. But this year, that seemed like a long time ago.