Environmentalist Annalena Baerbock becomes first head of German diplomacy

Aiming for the top is second nature to former trampoline champion Annalena Baerbock. This energetic environmentalist will become the first woman at the head of German diplomacy in the future government called to close the Merkel era.

The German Green Party, of which she is co-chair, announced her appointment on Thursday evening. She will take up her post at the beginning of December.

Unsuccessful candidate of the ecologists for the chancellery during the recent legislative elections, she has so far lacked international experience, with the exception of a post of parliamentary assistant to a Member of the European Parliament at the start of her career.

But this determined forty-something, who will celebrate her 41 years in mid-December, promised during the campaign to breathe new life into German diplomacy, in particular by adopting a firmer tone vis-à-vis Russia and the United States. China.

The European Union needs “a strong German foreign policy, open but active”, argued Annalena Baerbock in May before the thinktank Atlantic Council. “It is not for Germany to tell others what to do but if we behave very passively, it is difficult for others”.

Opposed to the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline, which should make it possible to transport Russian gas to Europe, this lawyer specializing in international law believes that “another approach vis-à-vis authoritarian regimes” is “a key question” for the future government , “for our safety and for our values”.

“Dialogue and firmness”

Vis-à-vis China, she advocates “dialogue and firmness” in particular with regard to violations of human rights of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

A graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics, Annalena Baerbock is renowned for her in-depth knowledge of issues, including the exit of coal in her constituency of Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin.

She also showed determination by winning in the spring against her charismatic and popular partner at the head of the Greens, Robert Habeck, to bring environmental hopes to the legislative elections.

For a while, the polls allowed her to dream of becoming the first green chancellor in history.

The ace. She misses her campaign and will end up plummeting in voting intentions. She will admit “errors” on election night when the Greens only arrive in third position.

Devastating controversy

Tax-exempt bonuses not declared to the Bundestag, curriculum vitae slightly “inflated” before a devastating controversy around plagiarized passages from a programmatic book: she has seen her capital confidence melt over the months.

The CV does not mention any ministerial experience, even at the regional level, making skeptics say that she is not familiar with the mysteries of negotiation, essential in a government coalition.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1998-2005), Joschka Fischer, tutelary figure of the Greens, conceded: “for me, it almost came out of nowhere”.

To try to identify Annalena Baerbock, you have to go … on a trampoline.

This former top athlete was triple bronze medalist at the German championships in the discipline. Also a footballer, the ecologist who campaigns for “climate-friendly prosperity” sees similarities with politics.

In these two areas, “you have to be really courageous,” she said in a documentary on the public channel NDR. “With each new figure that we learn, we do not know if we are going to land on the head or the feet”.

After deserting the gyms due to chronic injuries, the mother of two girls, who grew up on a farm in Lower Saxony, first considered a career in journalism. But its trajectory bifurcates after an internship with an MEP.

She took her party card in 2005, the year when environmentalists, minority government partners of the Social Democrats, left power.

The young woman, who offers a variety of leather jackets in different colors, has been a deputy for almost eight years, elected in a constituency near Berlin.

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