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Open discussions, not ingratiation

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The European Commission and countries such as Poland and Hungary have been arguing for years now about issues related to the rule of law. The Commission has been critical, for example, of reforms that restrict the independence of the judiciary and the media. So far, though, little has been achieved: There hasn't been much concrete progress at the political level. Only one legal body — the European Court of Justice — has managed to induce the Polish government to revise some controversial decisions. Its judgments are respected. However, Warsaw refuses to be told what to do by politicians in Berlin and Brussels. This has little to do with politics; it's more of a psychological issue.

One person who has never fallen into the trap of criticizing or talking down to her fellow leaders is Angela Merkel. Although their positions often differ, she always manages to strike the right tone with her eastern European counterparts. No western politician is more respected in the east than her. Clearly, Ursula von der Leyen wants to build on this. As Germany's minister of defense, she took the eastern countries and their concerns very seriously —........

© Deutsche Welle