Frank-Walter Steinmeierborn 5 January 1956) is a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) who has served as Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2013. Steinmeier was a close aide of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, serving as Chief of Staff in the German Chancellery from 1999 to 2005. He subsequently served as Foreign Minister(2005–2009) and Vice Chancellor (2007–2009) in the grand coalition government of Angela Merkel. In 2008, he briefly served as acting chairman of his party, and he was the SPD's candidate for Chancellor in the 2009 federal election.

Steinmeier is known as a reform-minded moderate within the SPD[1] and associated with the Schröder government's controversial drive to overhaul the welfare state.


Early life and education

Steinmeier was born in Detmold, the son of a carpenter. Following his Abitur, he served his military service from 1974 until 1976. He then studied law and political science at the Justus-Liebig-Universität of Gießen, where his fellow students included Brigitte Zypries. In 1982 he passed his first and 1986 his second state examination in law. He worked as scientific assistant to the professor of public law and political science at the Gießen university, until he obtained his doctorate of law in 1991. His dissertation explored the role of the state in the prevention of homelessness.


Political career

Early career

Steinmeier became an adviser in 1991 for law of communication media and media guidelines in the state Chancellery of Lower Saxony in Hanover. In 1993, he became director of the personal office for the then Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Gerhard Schröder. In 1996, he became the Undersecretary of State and Director of the State Chancellery of Lower Saxony.


Head of the Federal Chancellery, 1999-2005

Steinmeier was appointed in November 1998 as undersecretary of state at the office of the chancellor following Schröder's election victory. He replaced Bodo Hombach as the head of the office of the chancellor in 1999. During this period Steinmeier was also one of the advisors to Schröder. He was crucial in securing a red-green majority in parliament for Schröder's contentious 'Agenda 2010' of economic reforms. Because of his effective management beyond the spotlight of politics, he was nicknamed Die Graue Effizienz (The Grey Efficiency) - a pun on Graue Eminenz, the German for éminence grise.

Under Schröder, Steinmeier was responsible for co-ordinating Germany's intelligence services. In 2003, he supported Schröder in his controversial decision to forge a coalition with Russia and France against the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Meanwhile, he approved the decision to install a German intelligence officer in the Qatar-based office of GeneralTommy Franks, the American commander of the U.S. invasion in Iraq, who passed on to the United States information being gathered in Baghdad by two German intelligence officers operating there. In 2004, Steinmeier participated in diplomatic negotiations settling on compensation payments with Libya for victims of the 1986 terrorist bombing of the LaBelle disco in Berlin.

A major controversy during Steinmeier's term as chief of staff was the imprisonment of a German-born Turk, Murat Kurnaz, in Guantánamo Bay from 2002 until August 2006. Steinmeier denied during a parliamentary inquiry in March 2007 that he had blocked Kurnaz's release. Instead, he claimed that Berlin had feared Kurnaz was a threat and should go to Turkey, not Germany, if released. Only after Merkel's election was Kurnaz released and brought back to Germany.


Federal Foreign Minister, 2005-2009

On 22 November 2005, after the 2005 federal elections, Steinmeier became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Grand coalition cabinet led by Angela Merkel. He was the first SPD Foreign Minister since Willy Brandt (1966–1969).

Upon taking office, Steinmeier led the preparations for Germany taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Unionin the first half of 2007.

Following Franz Müntefering's departure from the cabinet on 21 November 2007, Steinmeier also filled the position of Vice-Chancellor.

During his time in office, Steinmeier was widely regarded a having good working relations with Angela Merkel but often taking a different stance on foreign affairs. By and large, he allowed Merkel to set the pace in foreign policy., working harmoniously with her on a range of foreign policy issues, from confronting Iran over its nuclear program to negotiating binding goals to combat climate change. In one significant foreign-policy disagreement, Steinmeier held in 2009 that Germany should by 2013 lay the groundwork for withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, a deployment that around two-thirds of Germans opposed by then. Unlike Merkel, he also favored Turkish entry into the European Union.

Also, Steinmeier became known for his rather Russia-friendly stance, arguing strenuously for engagement with the increasingly assertive power to the east, rather than its isolation. He formulated a policy toward Russia deliberately reminiscent of “Ostpolitik”, the eastward-facing policy pioneered by Chancellor Willy Brandt in the early 1970s. Together with Gernot Erler, the SPD’s leading Russia expert and the deputy foreign minister, Steinmeier initiated Germany’s so-called Partnership for Modernization with Russia (announced in 2008), which became an official EU policy in 2010. Pressed by lawmakers to say more on his attitude toward Russia in the wake of the high-profile murders of opposition figures Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko at a 2007 hearing at the European Parliament, Steinmeier stated that "there is a certain trend toward [media] hysterics and one needs to get a sense of reason back into the debate."

In 2006, Foreign Affairs published an analysis of the state of US and Russian nuclear forces, concluding that post-Cold War US nuclear forces seemed designed to carry out a preemptive strike against Russia or China and that the planned missile defense would be valuable primarily in an offensive context as an adjunct to a US first-strike capability. The article elicited a semi-official Russian response from ex-PM Yegor Gaidar in the Financial Times a few days later. In 2007, the US government reportedly was reportedly deeply irritated, although publicly silent, about Steinmeier, who had sounded supportive of Russian accusations that a planned US missile defense complex in Poland would upset the strategic balance in Europe – and who then left without challenge Russian General Nikolai Solovtsov’s threat of retaliation against Poland and the Czech Republic if they deployed U.S. defensive systems. Russian opposition activists later celebrated when Steinmeier and the SDP lost the 2009 election, signaling their discontent with Steinmeier. Oleg Petrovich Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group, said that Steinmeier had prolonged Schröder's policies on Russia and that Germany's policies were "extremely bad for civil society, democracy and the country as a whole".

In February 2009, Steinmeier became the first member of Merkel's cabinet to be received by the incoming Obama administration.

During his time in office, Steinmeier managed to extract German hostages from Iraq and Yemen. In 2007, he also succeeded in securing the release of a German citizen who was imprisoned in Iran for illegally entering the country's waters on a fishing expedition.

Steinmeier served as acting chairman of the SPD from 7 September 2008 to 18 October 2008. Domestically, throughout his term he was the only major politician with approval ratings consistently as high as or higher than Merkel’s. This was helped by the especially high ratings foreign ministers generally receive in Germany.


Opposition leader, 2009-2013

On 7 September 2008, following the resignation of SPD chairman Kurt Beck, Steinmeier was chosen as the SPD candidate for chancellor for the 2009 federal elections and also designated as acting SPD Chairman, pending the return of Müntefering to that position. In his election campaign, he argued for new tax rules to deter high executive pay and bonuses, and for minimum wages to slow the growing gap between Germany's highest and lowest earners. He also focused on improving public healthcare.

After the SPD's decisive defeat in the elections – the party’s worst performance since World War II – Steinmeier, who had been elected to represent Brandenburg an der Havel – Potsdam-Mittelmark I – Havelland III – Teltow-Fläming I, was elected Peter Struck’s successor as chairman of the SPD's parliamentary group in the Bundestag, and as such leader of the opposition. After a hospitalization for donating a kidney to his wife in August 2010, Steinmeier returned to his office in October 2010.

During his time as leader of the parliamentary opposition, Steinmeier regularly accused Angela Merkel’s government of increasing the national debt and pandering to the rich. In 2011, Steinmeier argued that Merkel’s decision to appoint her economics adviser, Jens Weidmann, to be the next head of Bundesbank undermined the political independence and public trust in the German central bank.

In late 2012, Steinmeier was once again considered a possible candidate to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in the 2013 general election, but soon withdrew from the contest. As a consequence, SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel later announced that the leadership agreed to nominate Peer Steinbrück.


Federal Foreign Minister, 2013-present

After the elections of 2013 and the new grand coalition government, Steinmeier was appointed foreign minister for a second time in December 2013. He replaced Guido Westerwelle, who had signed the P5+1 accord with Iran in November 2013. His deputies are Michael Roth (SPD) and Maria Böhmer (CDU). Upon taking office, Steinmeier initiated an ambitious review of Germany’s foreign policy, holding meetings nationwide and drawing in more than 12,000 people who work at the ministry or abroad.

Over the course of 2014, Steinmeier alternated with Merkel as Germany’s most popular politician in polls of eligible voters.

In light of criticism from the United States, Steinmeier has stood firm on Germany’s approach in the Ukraine conflict, where it was balancing support for European economic sanctions on Russia with leaving the door open to a revived partnership. In May 2014, he proposed a greater mediation role for the OSCE, including the convening of local "round table" talks in Ukraine to defuse conflicts. During the Minsk II talks on a ceasefire for eastern Ukraine in early 2015, he successfully negotiated with Russian President Vladimir Putinon allowing German doctors to visit Ukrainian military pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who had been on hunger strike for more than two months in a Russian jail. Steinmeier has in the past repeatedly ruled out arms shipments to resolve the yearlong conflict.

In 2015, Steinmeier hosted a meeting of the delegations from Libya’s two rival governments, who were battling for control of the country, and United Nations Special Representative Bernardino León to discuss a UN-sponsored peace and power-sharing proposal despite splits among some of the parties.

Steinmeier later was instrumental in convening the Syria peace talks in Vienna in October 2015, drawing together Saudi Arabia; its main regional rival, Iran; as well as Russia, theUnited States and other Western powers and regional actors including Turkey and Iraq.


Political positions

Human rights

In the past, Human Rights Watch has labeled Steinmeier as "Realpolitik advocate", for whom, "when it comes to defining his relationship with countries such as Russia and China, human rights play only a subordinate role."

In Steinmeier’s opinion, the “rejection of capital punishment is one of the keystones of German human-rights policy. The death penalty goes against our fundamental ethic and moral principles.“ He personally called for the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan; capital punishment in Uzbekistan has been abolished since 2008. In April 2014, he summoned the Egyptian ambassador Mohamed Higazy after a Cairo court sentenced 683 individuals to death for inciting violence during protests in summer 2013, following the military overthrow of elected President Mohammed Morsi.

In response to the protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election against the disputed victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Steinmeier condemned what he called "brutal actions" against demonstrators in Tehran and summoned the Iranian ambassador Alireza Sheikhattar to explain.


European integration

After Germany had only narrowly managed to avoid a deficit warning from the European Commission in 2002, Schröder and Steinmeier became the driving forces behind weakening the Stability and Growth Pact, a rule-based framework for the coordination of national fiscal policies originally intended as the guarantor of a stable euro.

In a joint article in the Financial Times on 14 December 2010, Steinmeier and Peer Steinbrück proposed to solve the European debt crisis with “a combination of a haircut for debt holders, debt guarantees for stable countries and the limited introduction of European-wide bonds in the medium term, accompanied by more aligned fiscal policies.“ In February 2011, Steinmeier proposed Steinbrück as a candidate to lead the European Central Bank.

Under Steinmeier’s parliamentary leadership, the Social Democrats raised pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to agree to more burden-sharing to stem the euro zone crisis, repeatedly calling on her to assume greater risks to avert a breakup of the single currency. In both February and November 2012, his parliamentary group voted largely in favour of the Merkel government’s proposal for eurozone bailout packages for Greece, while criticizing the measures were "not an enduring solution for the Greeks." In July 2014, he helped build the opposition’s support for a euro zone rescue package for Spanish banks. Later, as foreign minister, he publicly advised against "frivolous" talk of a Greek withdrawal from the eurozone, calling for a serious search for a solution.

Reacting to a growth of euro-skeptic political parties across Europe by early 2014, Steinmeier offered the United Kingdom limited support on renegotiating the Treaties of the European Union, saying Germany wanted to see Britain’s influence in the “midst” of the EU, not on “the sidelines.” In December 2014, Steinmeier and the foreign ministers from the three Nordic countries DenmarkFinland and Sweden – Margot WallströmErkki Tuomioja and Martin Lidegaard – met in the so-called "N3 + 1" format to discuss issues of common concern for the first time.

Also in late 2014, Steinmeier and his British counterpart Philip Hammond united in a bid to end a deadlock in relations between Bosnia and the European Union, arguing that the EU should abandon its insistence on changes to Bosnia’s electoral code as a precondition for a Stabilization and Association Agreement on the path to EU membership.


Energy policy

In 2007, Steinmeier said he opposes European Commission proposals on unbundling the ownership of energy networks in the European Union, as it was proposed in the Third Energy Package.


Relations with France

On May 14, 2014, Steinmeier became the first German foreign minister to attend a meeting of the French cabinet. Together with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, he has flown on several joint diplomatic missions in 2014, including to MoldovaGeorgiaTunisia, and Nigeria.


Relations with Russia

Upon returning to government in late 2013, Steinmeier criticized Russia in his inaugural speech for exploiting Ukraine's economic plight to prevent it from signing the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement. In March 2014, he defended Russia's membership of the G8, saying "he format of the G8 is actually the only one in which we in the West can speak directly with Russia." When Germany held the chairmanship of the group in 2015, he maintained that excluding Russia over its actions in Ukraine was a necessary step but not a goal in itself; citing the Middle East, he argued that "a look at the world shows that we need Russia as a constructive partner in a number of conflicts."


Relations with Central Asia

During a 2006 meeting with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, Steinmeier criticized Turkmenistan for its slow progress in implementing the rule of law and human rightsand said that the state's progress in carrying out political reforms had been "too halting."

When Germany chaired a United Nations group aimed at resolving 2008 Russo-Georgian diplomatic crisis, Steinmeier presented to the three conflict parties – Georgia, Abkhaziaand Russia – a plan which included a three-stage peace proposal, entailing an end to violence, confidence-building measures over the following year that could lead to the resumption of direct talks between Georgia and Abkhazia, and the return of about 250,000 Georgian refugees to Abkhazia. However, both Georgia and Abkhazia rejected the proposal. In September 2008, Steinmeier called for an international probe into the conflict over Georgia's breakaway provinces. During a 2014 visit to the country, he reiterated that membership of NATO and of the EU would remain off the cards for a long while to come.

In August 2006, Steinmeier made his first visit to Afghanistan, where Germany had taken over the command of the 21,000-strong NATO-led International Stability and Assistance Force (ISAF) shortly before. Ahead of the 2009 federal elections, Steinmeier – then still in his capacity as foreign minister – commissioned an internal report on Germany’s engagement in Afghanistan which recommended that Germany should start pulling out of the country within four years; at the time, this was seen as a stark departure from Steinmeier’s earlier insistence Germany should not set a date for withdrawing its then 4,200-strong contingent from the north of Afghanistan as the move could play into the hands of Taliban insurgents.

In October 2014, Steinmeier visited both Armenia and Azerbaijan to facilitate a negotiated solution to the long-standing conflict over Nagorny Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan controlled by ethnic Armenians.


Relations with the Middle East

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II a "myth" during an address carried live on state television in 2005, Steinmeier summoned the Iranian chargé d'affaires to issue a protest of the "shocking" remarks. In response to a letter to the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran, sent by 47 United States Senators led by Republican Tom Cotton, Steinmeier said during a visit to Washington, D.C. that the move had complicated P5+1 talks over Iran’s nuclear program by allowing Tehran to claim the West is not negotiating in good faith.

On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Steinmeier participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the governments of Germany and Israel in Jerusalem in March 2008. In co-ordination with the governments of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, he hosted the Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security & The Rule of Law in Berlin on 24 June 2008; the conference assembled foreign ministers and representatives of over forty countries and international organizations, including Condoleezza RiceTzipi LivniAhmed Qurei, and Tony Blair. In Steinmeier’s first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories since his return to office in 2014, he represented the German government at the official funeral ceremony for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Knesset; within his first two years in office, he visited Israel four times. At the OSCE’s Berlin Conference on Anti-Semitism in late 2014, Steinmeier said Germany's Jews were subjected to threats and attacks at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and the conflict between Israel and Gaza must not be used as justification for an anti-Semitic behavior. In 2015, his backing of plans by star conductor Daniel Barenboim to take one of Germany's main orchestras to Iran, caused Israel to call the state support for the trip a "mistake".

Steinmeier has visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan twice to learn more about the plight of Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011, first in his capacity as chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in May 2013 and later as foreign minister in May 2015. In early 2014, upon taking office as foreign minister, he agreed with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen that Germany would help destroy Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons materials as part of an international disarmament program. In October 2014, he co-chaired the Berlin Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation along with Development Minister Gerd Müller and the UN High Commissioner for RefugeesAntónio Guterres.


Relations with Africa

Steinmeier has made the African continent the destination of many foreign trips. On his first visit as Germany’s foreign minister in 2006, his tour to LibyaAlgeriaTunisia,Morocco and Mauritania was aimed at preparing Germany for its presidency of the EU and the G8 the following year. In August 2007, he travelled to Nigeria and Ghana. In February 2008, he made a three-day visit to Ghana (on the occasion of the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations), Togo and Burkina Faso. Over the course of 2014, Steinmeier visitedEthiopiaTanzania and AngolaNigeria and Tunisia (with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius); and South Africa (for the 8th South Africa-Germany Bi-National Commission). In 2015, he made official trips to MoroccoTunisia and Algeria; to the Democratic Republic of the CongoRwanda and KenyaEgypt; and MozambiqueZambia and Uganda.

In June 2007, Steinmeier and EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner flew to BenghaziLibya to try to advance efforts to free six foreign medics sentenced to death for infecting 426 Libyan children with HIV.

Later that year, Steinmeier summoned the Zimbabwean chargé d'affaires and stated that comments in state-run newspaper The Herald referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a "Nazi" were unacceptable; Merkel had previously confronted human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Since becoming a member of the German Bundestag, Steinmeier has voted in favor of German participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions as well as in United Nations-mandated European Union peacekeeping missions on the African continent, such as in Somalia (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015), Darfur/Sudan (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), South Sudan (2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015), Mali (2013 and 2014), the Central African Republic (2014), and Liberia (2015). In 2012 and 2013, however, he voted against German participation in Operation Atalanta in Somalia.


Vergangenheitsbewältigung of German Nazi past

In 2014, Steinmeier and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini took part in the remembrance of the 244 victims of a massacre by German troops in Civitella on June 29, 1944, during World War II. Later that year, he attended the ordination of four rabbis educated in Germany which was held at the White Stork Synagogue in Wrocław, one day after the 75th anniversary of the German attack on Poland.

When incoming Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in his first major speech to parliament in early 2015, pledged to seek war reparations from Germany, Steinmeier replied to Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias that Germany was fully aware of its political and moral responsibility for the "terrible events" in Greece between 1941 and 1944 when Nazi troops occupied the country. "Still, we are firmly convinced that all reparations issues, including forced loans, are judicially settled once-and-for-all," Steinmeier said.

The object of mass VOTE: Frank-Walter Steinmeier.  
German political

Rate the damage it causes (does not cause) the object of VOTE to the European Commonwealth.

Method of ethical VOTE is to choose one of the following  values:

 0 - moral, there is no prejudice to the European community;
-1, -2, -3 - minor damage, harm to the European community;
-4, -5, -6 - damage of medium gravity for the European community;
-7, -8, -9, -10 - substantial damage, harm to the European community.


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