Recently, Jana Puglierin was a guest on the Brussels Sprouts podcast and did what she often does: explain to a non-German audience what is actually going on with the Germans.
It was about the German chancellor’s visit to Prague and Germany’s role in the EU since Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Puglierin believes that Olaf Scholz’s choice of the Czech capital for his keynote speech on European policy is a skillful attempt to regain lost trust in Eastern and Central Europe. Six months after the announced turnaround, the tenor in many Eastern European countries is that Germany has not delivered. “Berlin has not lived up to the expectations that were placed on it,” the political scientist explains in the US podcast.
Puglierin, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, has been a highly sought-after interview guest since the outbreak of the war. She has been studying foreign, security and defense policy for years. “These are not niche issues for the back rooms; they concern everyone,” she says. To raise awareness, the 44-year-old accepts invitations to talk shows, radio interviews, panel discussions and podcasts. There, she tries to explain why Germany cannot duck out of the way when it comes to the war in Ukraine.
Peace in Europe not a given
“I have had to listen to people tell me what they consider the real threat for the longest time,” says Puglierin. She, as well as others, has long called for Germany to increase its defense spending and to invest in a powerful army. She has always found the assumption that the concept of war in Europe will forever be a thing of the past “ahistorical”. “The fact that my parents’ generation did not live through war is something I consider a coincidence, albeit a happy one.”
The conflict with Russia cannot be sat out, she is convinced. “We must manage to maintain the unity of the West, find a way to deal with disinformation and at the same time avoid a hot conflict with Russia,” she demands. However, Putin can only be impressed by military strength, which is why it is in Germany’s and the EU’s own security interests to be able to defend themselves.
In doing so, she is not only making friends – as are other analysts and experts who advocate rearmament. After a talk show appearance, she often receives messages in her mailbox in which people use her real name to hurl pages of insults or abuse. She and her friend Claudia Major, a security expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), joke on Twitter that they will someday hold a poetry slam with the worst messages.
The think tanker travels frequently and participates in events throughout Europe and the United States. “A big part of my job is to explain abroad what the mood and political debate are like in Germany.” On the other hand, it’s important to her to put aside her German bias and look at things from a different point of view.
Taking a pan-European perspective to address the greatest strategic challenges in foreign and security policy is also the goal of ECFR. The think tank maintains seven offices in various European capitals and networks decision-makers, activists and multipliers.
“Germany as a player in Europe remains a central issue because we are so rich and big and everyone is looking at us,” says Puglierin. The positive feeling of 1989, when Europe suddenly grew together, still guides her in her work today. She is convinced that the EU is doomed to succeed more than ever. “I wish that the EU would come back from this experience, that war is possible, to what it is worth.” Ulrike Christl