But by all accounts, the assembly went properly. Despite years of acrimony between Russia and Germany — and particularly between Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Maas’s predecessors — the Germans got here away promising to assist a veterans’ hospital, and the Russians dedicated to the so-called Normandy Format, an effort to resolve the disaster in japanese Ukraine involving France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.
The day after assembly Mr. Lavrov in Moscow, Mr. Maas traveled to Lithuania for a gathering with the overseas ministers of the three Baltic States. It was a gathering with pals, and but the entire drama of German overseas coverage was in this go to, too: With Britain leaving the European Union — together with its sizable army — the three small states, in concern of Russian aggression, need to Germany to fill the safety void. Mr. Maas left them feeling reassured, with out but making the type of concrete commitments the Baltics are in search of.
And all of this — Russia, Ukraine, the Baltics — account for only one a part of Germany’s overseas coverage portfolio. As the consultant of a rustic that’s solely now determining its management function, Mr. Maas is strolling a slender line — however he appears to be relishing the problem. “I still have to get used to not going to the office but to the airport every morning,” he joked on the flight again.
Mr. Maas is energized by his new workplace, nearly boyishly excited by it. In public he’s reserved and, properly, diplomatic; in one-on-one conferences he’s extra informal, leaning again deeply into the seat of the airplane, holding a pretzel stick between two fingers like a cigar, as if discussing world politics in some fancy Berlin bar.
The Foreign Ministry has modified Heiko Maas. But how will he change German overseas coverage?
The checklist of previous overseas ministers contains a number of the main figures in German politics, from Willy Brandt to Joschka Fischer, and every of them left a major imprint. It’s early nonetheless, however Mr. Maas will doubtless comply with them. He has sturdy coverage convictions and is aware of the best way to make himself seen, the best way to use the information media not simply to get out info, however to inform a narrative.