Key German foreign policymaker announces departure from politics

Key German foreign policymaker announces departure from politics |

Michael Roth, head of the German Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs Committee and one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters, has announced his departure from politics due to differences within his own party.

Roth, a member of the German Social Democrats (SPD/S&D) and one of the country’s most prominent foreign policy experts, with almost 27 years in parliament, announced his intention not to run for the next federal elections in 2025.

“I don’t have the bite anymore. I feel an inner distance from the business. Now it is over with politics,” Roth said in an interview with Stern.

“I’ll do it until the federal election. After that, I am out,” he added.

He added he feels unmotivated, an estrangement from the SPD, and noted resistance from colleagues over his Ukraine stance and his role in failing to engage in dialogue with them.

“In the last years, I noticed that I was increasingly at a loss with our meetings, that the committees and the atmosphere in them bothered me…I had the impression I was climbing into a refrigerator,” he said.

“Sometimes, I felt like a foreign body,” he said while acknowledging he had some role to play in his own alienation.

He first sparked criticism when he travelled to Ukraine alongside two senior government MPs, the Greens’ Anton Hofreiter and liberal FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine in 2022.

Their joint visit to Ukraine was particularly unpopular within the ranks of the SPD, as it increased pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to deliver additional lethal arms.

All three have been staunch proponents of increased Ukrainian support ever since, but Roth became less vocal when the trip caught up with him.

Roth was removed from the SPD’s party’s executive committee under great applause and laughter at the end of last year—an experience he described as “awful” but not a decisive factor.

“The question of war and peace” has created a new harshness in the SPD, Roth said.

Roth took time off in 2022 due to mental exhaustion. He also accused his colleagues, in particular party leadership, of dealing with Scholz ‘in the wrong way’.

“Both the party and the parliamentary group have actually subordinated themselves to him,” he said, adding, “It all depends on the chancellor…politics is a team game, not a one-man show.”

Florian Hahn, the defence policy spokesman from the largest opposition party CDU, posted on X that “with Roth, one of the last sensible foreign policy experts and staunch Ukraine supporters within the SPD is leaving,” assuming that “Mützenich will be pleased.”

“I respect your decision, but we will say goodbye later,” the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksiy Makeev, said, adding that “there is still a lot to do [until the end of Roth’s term].”

(Kjeld Neubert |, edited by Niko Kurmayer)

Read more with Euractiv

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