Germany and the US: Common Challenges of the Transatlantic Relationship
H.E. Peter Wittig, Ambassador of Germany to the United States

Washington, DC—On May 18, 2015, H.E. Peter Wittig, Ambassador of Germany to the United States, spoke to WFPG members and guests at an Embassy Series event moderated by Karen DeYoung, Senior National Security Correspondent and Associate Editor at The Washington Post. The event focused on common challenges of the transatlantic relationship between Germany and the US and was hosted by the ambassador at his residence. Ambassador Wittig discussed Germany’s commitment to fostering its relationship with the United States, especially in a time of troubling global turmoil. The ambassador also spoke about how Germany is confronting the foreign policy challenges of the 20th century in their reluctantly assumed leadership role. Ambassador Wittig identified the future of the European Union and the fragility of the Eurozone; the increasingly tense relationship between Europe and Russia; the effect of widespread political instability in North Africa and the Middle East; and the preservation of the transatlantic partnership with the US as some of the major foreign policy challenges Germany will have to face in the coming months and years.

The ambassador discussed the recent financial crisis and cited the fragile situation in Greece as an example of the broader economic instability seen across Europe. As one of the economic strongholds of Europe, Germany maintains that an exit by Greece from the Eurozone would be dangerous for all involved, and they are still waiting for Athens to present their reforms before promising future aid. Acknowledging that views diverge on how to manage the crisis most effectively, the ambassador stressed that sustainable measures—through public and private investment and structural reforms—must be instituted in the near future in order to steer Europe back to a path of economic recovery and prosperity.

The conversation was largely dominated by the recent events in Ukraine. Russia’s actions seem to suggest a shift in East-West relations, and Ambassador Wittig was quick to highlight that Russia’s flouting of international norms has disrupted the post-Cold War order largely maintained in Europe over the past 25 years. Despite these actions, the ambassador stated that the sanctions imposed by Germany and other western nations had a palpable effect on Russia’s economy. In addition to sanctions, the reassurance of eastern members of NATO is necessary in order to alleviate concerns over any future Russian aggression. Finally, the ambassador encouraged continued dialogue and diplomacy between nations to make further progress and restore order in the region.

Ambassador Wittig praised the recent reawakening of NATO and the values held by the organization and discussed the shared transatlantic challenges. Beyond the issue of Russia and Ukraine, he stressed the importance of continually developing the relationships between members of NATO in various trade agreements and other international issues. He stated that the partnership between the United States and Germany is crucial, and while the nature of the relationship is a deeply consultative one, the leadership from the US on such matters is invaluable and indispensable, especially in an age of unprecedented threats to global security.


alt alt alt

WFPG President Patricia Ellis and
Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany


WFPG Board Member Diana Villiers Negroponte,
WFPG President Patricia Ellis, Ambassador John
Negroponte, Ambassador Peter Wittig, WFPG Board Chair
Ann Stock, and Moderator Karen DeYoung


alt alt alt

WFPG Board Chair Ann Stock welcomes guests


Ambassador Wittig discusses common challenges
of the Transatlantic relationship


alt alt alt

Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post
interviews the Ambassador


WFPG audience listening to the discussion

alt alt alt

WFPG Board Member Dawn Calabia asks a question


WFPG members during the program



alt alt alt

Alidad Mafinezam, President of West Asia Council


Patricia Ellis during the Q&A session

alt alt alt

Ambassador Josip Joško Paro of Croatia,
Deborah Sigmund, Patricia Ellis, and Ambassador Wittig


Diana Villiers Negroponte and Ambassador
Negroponte with Ambassador Wittig

alt alt alt

Chargé d'Affaires Mamica Toska of Albania with
Riccarda Torriani of the Embassy of Switzerland


Ambassador Paro with Karen DeYoung and Marina McCarthy

alt alt alt

Ambassador Wittig, Tino Calabia, and Dawn Calabia


WFPG members and guests during the reception