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Jackson Janes

Almost seventeen years after the Berlin Wall fell, German-American relations represent a mixture of partnership, competition, and a vast network of political, economic and cultural ties which make up one of the most intensive bilateral relations on the globe. A cornerstone of the Euro-Atlantic framework, German-American relations remain of critical importance to both sides of the Atlantic. However, the reasons why that is the case have been in continuous transformation, as the interests and the needs of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany have responded to the demands of a changing environment during the past five decades, especially since the end of the Cold War. Angela Merkel has stated clearly that she sees a stronger Europe and a stronger transatlantic relationship as two sides of the same coin. While that has been the mantra of many chancellors before her, she has an opportunity to help define what it means today. In setting the priorities and the course of German foreign policy while engaging in an honest and candid dialogue with Washington, Angela Merkel will be building on a mixture of continuity and change within the German debate about its European and global roles and responsibilities.

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Jackson Janes

Angela Merkel remains arguably the most powerful politician in Europe, now in her third term as chancellor. While she enjoys popularity at home, seen as pragmatic and reliable, she faces numerous outward expectations and pressures that challenge Germany's foreign policy of restraint. Some argue that Germany does not pull its weight in foreign policy, particularly militarily, or at least is reluctant to do so. This view is not only an external one, but also is shared by Germany's leaders—both Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and President Joachim Gauck, among others, have expressed their desire for an increased German role in the world. Many politicians, however, do not see an advantage to focusing on foreign issues in their export-heavy economy. Other challenges, including disillusionment among Germans regarding their tenuous relationship with Russia and damaged trust between the U.S. and Germany as a result of the NSA scandal, will force Merkel to set an agenda that balances domestic concerns with her allies' expectations.