Though Germany is the leading endorser of the EU’s enlargement eastwards, it has found this concept incompatible with its objective to promote stronger European integration. By employing the “role theory”, an explanation could be found for this state of conflicting interests. More precisely,
“West Germany’s post-war role in European politics was that of a promoter of deeper integration; the deepening of West European integration thus became part of the self-conception of West German foreign policy-making elites. The changed situation after 1990 placed new demands on German foreign policy makers. West Germany’s traditional self-conception as an integration deepener conflicted with the desire on behalf of unified Germany to press for EU enlargement. However, although German policy makers employed a variety of strategies in order to pursue their incongruous foreign-policy aims, their principal concern remained with the deepening of western integration”. (Jeffery, 2003)
In addition to the issue of western integration, there is widespread debate within Germany about the changing nature of the country’s identity in light of its new policy framework. An area of concern for many German intellectuals is the implication of this new identity to the country’s decision making process and vice versa. This issue is very significant, as Germans are always cautious in matters affecting their identity and perception from outside. This goes back a long way, the most notable example of which is the so-called “Primat der Aussenpolitik, the doctrine of the primacy of foreign policy, that was adopted during the nineteenth century” (Lansbury and Pain, 1997). Germany’s relationship with its western neighbours since the fall of the Berlin wall has been more or less on expected lines. But even here, there is an inherent contradiction, due to the fact that while Germany was expected to approve of the Maastricht Treaty and integrate into the EMU, there is also anticipation from western democracies as to “the strategy Germany would pursue towards CEE, and German support for enlargement towards the East was seen with rather more wariness” (Dyson, 2003).
Due to long-standing economic connections, cultural similarity, and other strategic advantages in foreign and domestic policy, it was expected that Germany would be the prominent member of a hypothetical northern bloc in the EU that was meant to counter a southern bloc led by France. But, this concept serves only as the epitome of a general prevalence of incertitude about Germany’s motivation within the EU. Nevertheless, during the early 1990’s, the other members of the European Union were preoccupied with their own domestic problems that Eastern enlargement was not on top of their agendas. In this scenario it is understandable how significant it was that German political leaders addressed the issue at all (Dyson, 2003). Hence, the fluid and impermanent nature of twentieth century German policy serves expose the inadequacies of constructivism and instrumentalist ethnic conflict theories. The fact that the Nazi war machinery of the 1930s started off in the name of ‘aggressive nationalism’ is a stark reminder of the irrationality of such notions. The Nazi propaganda during the period was full ‘nationalistic’ fervour, with cries for ‘defending’ the sovereignty of the Aryan race. It is difficult to reconcile such seemingly respectable feelings with the mass slaughter of six million Jews by the end of the Second World War. It then becomes impossible to equate any measure of rationality, reason or genuine emotion with ‘aggressive nationalisms’.