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Germany’s New Global Role

Berlin Steps Up

Steinmeier at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, July 2014. THOMAS KOEHLER / GETTY IMAGES

Over the past two decades, Germany’s global role has undergone a remarkable transformation. Following its peaceful reunifica­tion in 1990, Germany was on track to become an economic giant that had little in the way of foreign policy. Today, however, the country is a major European power that attracts praise and criticism in equal measure. This holds true both for Germany’s response to the recent surge of refugees—it welcomed more than one million people last year—and for its handling of the euro crisis.

As Germany’s power has grown, so, too, has the need for the country to explain its foreign policy more clearly. Germany’s recent history is the key to understanding how it sees its place in the world. Since 1998, I have served my country as a member of four cabinets and as the leader of the parliamentary opposition. Over that time, Germany did not

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