The U.N. General Assembly, which is held in September every year and dubbed the ‘Super Bowl of foreign affairs,’ is the world’s largest gathering of those involved in foreign affairs. Numerous bilateral and multilateral talks are held as all 193 member countries attend the event. Diplomatic competition among countries is fierce as each country tries to achieve national interests. In particular, competition for meetings with current U.S. president and state secretary is particularly intense.
However, the schedule of German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock attending this year’s U.N. General Assembly is focused on meetings with key figures of the U.S. Republican Party, rather than President Joe Biden or his close aides. Minister Baerbock visited Texas, a Republican state, and met with its governor Gregory Wayne Abbott before heading to New York, where the headquarters of the U.N. are located. Even in Washington, D.C., she met Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the No. 1 Republican figure in the Senate, and James Risch, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the House of Representatives, the German minister had a meeting with Nancy Mace, who is considered one of the vice president candidates of the Republican Party.
It is unusual that a current foreign minister of Germany, a key ally of the U.S., meets the key figures of U.S. opposition party. The reason why Minister Baerbock met Republican members despite the risk of causing misunderstanding by the Biden administration is to call for the U.S.’s continued support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Ukrainian war before the next year’s presidential election. Europe is concerned that Western unity through the NATO and cooperation for the Ukrainian war will be weakened in case of the reelection of former President Donald Trump, who threatened to leave the NATO and demanded to raise Europe’s share of defense spending.
“Our friendship with the U.S. is not limited to a single party. We are not native and we won’t let the U.S. drive Europe crazy,” said Minister Baerbock. She added that Europe would be better prepared than in 2016 even if the U.S. former president returns to the White House.
In the U.S., there are enough systems in which the Congress that has authority over budgeting and the ratification of treaties and personnel appointments can put the brakes on the one-sided actions taken by its president. This is why some believe that a focus should be put on diplomatic activities with the U.S. Congress as the second shadow cabinet of former President Trump hasn’t been revealed. South Korea, which is facing critical issues, such as North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and economic relations with China, cannot be relaxed and wait and see how the U.S. presidential election unfolds.