Jun 29, 2023

Europe and the Global South

Whether it's about the EU's relations with developing countries or Germany's economic model, it's time to try something new.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi before their meeting at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, February 25, 2023.
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The brutal war of aggression that Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed against Ukraine almost 500 days ago is not only continuing to reconfigure Europe and the world, but is also increasingly destabilizing Russia itself, as the aborted “march on Moscow” by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenaries on June 23-24 showed. For 24 hours or so Russia seemed in limbo—no one tried to stop Prigozhin’s heavily armed irregular force on their way to the capital, nor did anyone of significance side with the sausage vendor turned “troll factory” owner and war criminal from Saint Petersburg.

For now, Russia’s president, who seems more and more detached from domestic and global realities, and his regime continue. It looks likely, however, that Putin’s decision to try and wipe Ukraine off the map will lead to the demise of his mafia state, which is now responsible for waging the biggest, bloodiest war in Europe since World War II.

Another effect of the war, which we focus on in this issue, is the rise of the so-called Global South—a problematic term Miriam Prys-Hansen examines and concludes that, on balance, its use has more advantages than disadvantages. Whatever term you use for the group of countries that were once called the “Third World,” “developing countries,” or “least industrialized countries”—many of which organized themselves for the first time at the famous Bandung conference of 1955 as being “unaligned” in the Cold War—have become, as Shada Islam writes, a geopolitical reality that the European Union would do well to engage with in a new, less condescending way.

One does not have to agree with Russian expert Fiona Hill, who recently described the Global South’s reaction to the war as an “uprising” against the existing world order; it has been clear for some time, however, that the Ukraine war has made many realize that the world view of the richer countries of the West is not necessarily shared around the globe, and that it is now certainly contested.

A year ago in our summer 2022 issue, Julia Friedlander already pointed out that “middle countries” like India are greatly profiting from the war’s global repercussions and are becoming powerbrokers in their own right. One year on, this analysis has certainly born out. Samir Sarin and Shairee Malhotra from the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) think tank suggest ways of improving the relationship, while Thorsten Benner assesses the role that the Global South plays in Germany’s current foreign policy.

How Germany will deal with the Global South is also one piece of the puzzle when it comes to the country’s economic model: “Deutschland 2030,” a new article series we have just launched, will focus on the changes needed to make the one-time “export world champion” fit for the troubling decades to come. In this issue, Jörg Kukies, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ economic and Europe advisor, kicks off the series pointing to Germany’s strengths, while Sander Tordoir and Shahin Vallée suggest a new growth model is needed. “The country has the budget resources, innovation prowess, skills, and appeal for migrants to allow its economy adjust,” they write. “The question is whether Germany has the courage to leap forward by trying something different.”

Whether in foreign, security, or economic policy, this is indeed the question.

Henning Hoff is Executive Editor of INTERNATIONALE POLITIK QUARTERLY.

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