Christoph Heusgen has worked in foreign policy for more than 40 years, has caused a stir with many an edgy word during his career as a diplomat. This year the 66-year-old took over the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a globally respected forum for foreign and security policy. For months, and not just in light of the Ukraine conflict, he has been calling for a united community of "states that enforce international law." Heusgen is considered one of Germany's most experienced and respected diplomats. Although he was late to serve formally as an ambassador, he has been politically active at the European level and in the United States, though never in Africa, Asia or Latin America.
Heusgen, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), became active in foreign policy posts early in his career. From 1993 to 1997, he was deputy head of the minister's office for the then German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. From 1999 to 2005, he headed the Brussels office and political staff of Javier Solana, then High Representative for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. After Angela Merkel's victory in the 2005 election, the new chancellor brought Heusgen, a Rhineland Catholic, into the chancellor's office as her foreign policy adviser. He was at the chancellor's side on virtually all of her foreign trips and has been excellently networked ever since. Occasionally, he traveled without her, but for her: When it emerged in the fall of 2013 that US intelligence agencies had wiretapped Merkel's phone, cooling transatlantic relations, Heusgen was part of the German delegation that sought clarification in Washington. Months before Merkel's fourth federal election victory in 2017, she had to let Heusgen go. The diplomat, who had already spent some time studying in the US in the 1980s and had worked at the German Consulate General in Chicago after 1983, now finally became an ambassador. For four years, he was Germany's permanent representative at the United Nations in New York. In April 2019 and July 2020, he presided over meetings of the UN Security Council, the top-level body to which Germany does not belong permanently but in which it wants to have a say. Here too, on occasion, he did not shy away from describing Russia's and China's blocking of UN aid deliveries to war-torn Syria as "cynical." Both expressed irritation at Germany's stance.
Heusgen is certainly thought of as a man of clear words, clearer than cross the lips of many other ambassadors. This has perhaps been all the more true since 2021, when he returned to Germany. Perhaps he has been so outspoken about the current conflict in Ukraine because he was involved in the difficult negotiations that led to the Minsk Agreement in 2014, which brought Ukraine, Russia and the separatists together but fell apart soon after.
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