Last week it was announced that this summer Géza Andreas von Geyr may succeed Rüdiger von Fritsch (28.12.1953) in the German Embassy in Moscow.
In this review we provide some insights on biography, connections and political views of the designed ambassador of Germany to Russia. As always we do not share sensitive data to the public and this article is based on publicly available information only.
German and Russian media published very brief biographies of Dr. von Geyr with emphasis on his background in Federal Intelligence Service. Before this announcement Andreas von Geyr was surprisingly little known to the publict. The same time, he is a reputable diplomat with strong links in the EU, the US and Russia. He is known as a man with deep practical understanding of global politics, of under the table deals between elites of the West and the East.
Von Geyr was a high priority target of NSA surveillance over German officials. His two supposed phone numbers: +491762286XXXX and +491609058XXXX are in the list of WikiLeaks intercept published in July 2015.
Biography of Géza Andreas von Geyr
Andreas von Geyr was born in Munich in 1962. He never disclosed any data about his parents and family to the public leaving a lot of space to speculations and rumors.
After military service, in 1982, von Geyr began studying modern, ancient history and communication sciences in Munich, Budapest and Vienna. Graduated as Dr. phil. and M.A.
He also studied political science in Munich and Washington, D.C. (graduated as a dipl. sc. pol.).
While working for FDS he wrote two books:
Sándor Wekerle. 1848 – 1921. The political biography of a Hungarian statesman of the Danube monarchy. (= Southeast European work 91). Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-56037-9.
America, Hungary and the end of the Cold War. American Eastern European policy in 1983 – 1990, using the example of American-Hungarian relations on Hungary’s path from a People’s Republic to democracy. Tuduv, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-88073-474-7.
The next year he was sent to the German Embassy in Rabat, where he headed the legal, consular and cultural departments.
As a member of European Commission, he took part in OSCE MEDITERRANEAN SEMINAR ON THE HUMAN DIMENSION OF SECURITY, PROMOTING DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW, Malta, 19-20 October 1998.
Andreas von Geyr made a statement on “The Importance of the Human Dimension for Creating a Common Security Space”.
At this event he took a speech after the statement of Isakov Victor Fedorovich (12.12.1932), former ambassador of Russian Federation in Malta.
According to diplomatic WikiLeaks, in September 2007 von Geyr acted in the capacity of Director for U.S. and Canada in the German Federal Chancellery [cable identifier: 07BERLIN1671].
The same year he was awarded the Norwegian Order of Merit. The Royal Norwegian Order of Merit was founded by King Olav V in 1985. It is conferred on foreign and Norwegian nationals as a reward for their outstanding service in the interest of Norway. It is remarkable that von Geyr was never mentioned in context of any project or initiative in Norway.
Wikileaks [08BERLIN1365_a] During his October 2 visit to Berlin, EUR/RPM Director Bruce Turner had separate meetings with Chancellery Director of Security Affairs Geza von Geyr and Deputy Detlef Waechter; MFA NATO Office Director Bernhard Schlagheck; and MFA OSCE Office Director Margit Hellwig-Boette. He also met with researchers Frank Kupferschmidt and Walther Stuetzle at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).
In 2010 Andreas von Geyr and was elected a Knight of the Legion of Honour.
According to SPIGEL, Geyr is one of Ursula von der Leyen’s closest confidants in the Ministry of Defense. He mainly coordinated international contacts and accompanied the Minister on her trips abroad.
While the first statement can be hardly checked without deep penetration into complex matters of personal relations between public officials, the second statement is very easy to check. Ursula von der Leyen and Géza Andreas von Geyr indeed traveled a lot together and took part in numerous events related to European security and Transatlantic cooperation.
The most recent example:
From 07.03 to 08.03 2019, the German Federal Minister of Defense, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, was in Warsaw.
During a dinner with Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Thursday night, the two sides signed a treaty for the Bundeswehr’s continued logistical support of Poland’s Leopard 2 tanks. On Friday, the Minister held talks in Warsaw and, together with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, attended an event organized by the German Marshall Fund and the Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM) to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NATO and on the 20th anniversary of Poland’s membership of NATO. Current security policy issues such as the relationship with Russia and the threat on NATO’s eastern flank have been discussed. The Minister was appointed by the Deputy Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Mr. Vice Admiral Joachim Rühle, the political director in the BMVg, Dr. Andreas Géza von Geyr as well as the German Ambassador to Poland, Ambassador Rolf Nikel and the German Ambassador Defence attaché in Poland, accompanied by Colonel i.G. Andreas Meister.
Links to Former Soviet Union (USSR) Countries
German media shares doubtful statements on von Geyr’s connections in Russia. Starting from “he was visiting Russia twice a year – he has personal relations with Russian politicians” to “he has no experience of working with Russians”. Both statements are not very accurate.
Brief media search shows that von Geyr indeed met Russian public officials many times and visited Russia not just ones.
The same time, there’re no hints and reasons to assume that he has “unformal relations”. Probably and even likely, that he was approached by representatives of Russian state companies and oligarchs, but it’s doubtful that these meetings (if they really took place) lead to any agreements. Since he has become designated German Ambassador to Moscow, attempts to “build bridges” will become much more intensive.
Most remarkable von Geyr’s visits to Russia and Former Soviet Countries:
Russia: On December 16, 2015, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Antonov Anatoly Ivanovich (15.05.1955) held a protocol meeting with Chief of political department of the Federal Ministry of Defence of Germany Géza Andreas von Geyr, who had arrived in Moscow for consultations on problems of international security and Russian-German cooperation in the military field.
Antonov Anatoly Ivanovich (15.05.1955) left the Ministry of Defence in Decmber 2016 and was assigned Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation.
Since August 2017 Anatoly Antonov is the Ambassador of Russia to the United States.
By the date of the meeting, Anatoly Antonov had been under sanctions of the European Union and Canada.
Russia: On March 23, 2017, Andreas Géza von Geyr had negotiations in Moscow with the Chief of the Main directorate of international military cooperation of the Russian Defence Ministry Koshelev Sergei Mihailovich (26.06.1957).
The parties discussed topical issues of international security, in particular, the situation in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, relations of NATO and Russia, as well as talked about resumption of cooperation between both military departments.
Sergei Kushelev retired in saveral months after this meeting. According to the public, he was extreemly focused on Russia-US cooperation, disarmament and missle defence. With a strong background in diplomatic studies and foreign relations (IAAS graduate) he is well-known outside Russian Federation and worked as representative of Russia in several reputable international organizations.
Belarus: On 6 December 2018, Chief of the International Military Cooperation Department, Assistant to the Defence Minister for Foreign Military Policy Maj. Gen. Oleg Voinov of Belarus met with the German military delegation led by Dr. Géza Andreas von Geyr, Director General for Security and Defence Policy, German Federal Ministry of Defence.
The parties exchanged opinions on topical issues of regional and international security and discussed the state and prospects for bilateral cooperation.
Russia: On May 23, 2019, von Geyr had talks with Russian Defense Ministry’s Chief of Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation Maj. Gen. Kshimovsky Alexander Alexandrovich (26.04.1964).
Chief of the Main directorate for the international military cooperation paid attention to the concerns connected with the activities of the NATO near the Russian borders as well as the deployment of Anti-missile Defence in Romania and Poland.
Alexander Kshimovsky is a combat officer who took part in the War in Afghanistan. To the opposite of his predecessor, he has no background in international relations, but with 20+ years of experience in International Military Cooperation (he came to the appropriate department of the MoD in 1996) he has deep practical understanding of all nuances of complex relations between NATO and Russia.
Diplomatic statements leave no place for analysis – that’s the magic diplomats use to hide their secrets – but we are almost certain that it was easier for von Geyr to have talks with Sergei Kushelev.
Political views and statements
(based on interviews of Andreas Géza von Geyr available to the public)
Russia and Nord Stream 2: Energy policy is much more than just Nord Stream 2. If you look at European energy policy, it has been diversified for many decades – or at least it strives for the European energy market afterwards.
No country in the world can get out of its geography. As a European Union, we are also a neighbor of the Russian Federation. We have built up intensive energy cooperation with Russia for many years. And Nord Stream 2 already says in the name that there is obviously a Nord Stream 1. In addition, there are various other lines for energy imports towards Europe from the Russian Federation. They have always affected different countries. After all, Nord Stream 2 is not a bilateral project; it is a project involving companies from several countries, and also taking into account the interests of other countries, such as Ukraine. So: this is not a sudden plot or directed against anyone, but it is part of a diversified energy supply in Germany and thus, in a sense, of Europe. This has got a very special character, because it has political as well as economic aspects and divergent interests.
Integration and protectionism in the Western World: We must be careful to preserve the cohesion of the West: I mean the convergence of interests and values of European countries, the United States, Canada, but also other value partners in the democratic, human rights-centered, Western sense, such as Australia, New Zealand or even Japan. At the same time, we must present a certain degree of closeness to the outside world and be convincing in our commonality. <…>
Russia and NATO (2008, WikiLeaks archive):Von Geyr agreed that Russian behavior in the Caucasus represented a “paradigm change,” and that this would need to be reflected in the new strategic concept. He acknowledged that this would probably have to entail specific references to Russia.
Von Geyr thought Germany and the U.S. were “really not far apart” on their approach to Russia; the difference was just a matter a tone. While German leaders were not inclined to use the kind of tough language in public that Secretary Rice had used in her September 18 German Marshall Fund Speech, recent Russian behavior in the Caucasus had destroyed most of the “illusions” Germans had held in the 1990s about the “new” Russia.
Moscow, through its aggressive and disproportionate actions, had maneuvered itself into a “strategic dead-end.” While the Russians were still celebrating their “tactical success” in taking control of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it would hopefully dawn on them in the coming weeks and months that this, in fact, had worsened their strategic position in the world. To help them come to this realization, it was important for the international community to maintain a strict non-recognition policy in regards to the illegal seizure of these break-away regions. Chancellor Merkel had gone to St. Petersburg October 2 for the annual bilateral government consultations with Russia armed with all the appropriate talking points on this matter. However, von Geyr thought it was unrealistic to expect the Russians to draw down their forces in South Ossetia and Georgia to pre-August 7 levels any time soon.
Von Geyr stressed that OSCE was potentially a very useful forum, especially in dealing with Russia, given the OSCE’s good image in Europe as an objective and neutral conflict resolution organization. Germany was in favor of using the OSCE to bring Russia along on key issues and, where necessary, to isolate and pressure it to adhere to international norms.
New and supposed members of the European Union: In the EU we have countries that have been building integration for many decades. These countries still have a strong convergence of ideas and interests they are adepts of Western-European thinking. We have those who joined the EU a few years ago, Central Europeans, East Europeans, who have come from difficult times with their very specific experiences, with their own identities and who also want to see them respected. Perhaps now in the EU, we may also be at the point where we have to worry about whether we really treat one another to the full extent of our identities. We see this very strongly in the discussions on migration policy. This is also an identity question, a question of respect. South East Europeans, who have a clear EU perspective but who are not there yet, who are trying very hard to establish the high degree of approximation of their legal systems in the many policy areas. They are just as European as we are, only from a different basis of experience and identity. And there is another group, those Europeans, who in a certain sense are at the bitter end of Realpolitik, but who are nevertheless Europeans. Georgia is a deeply European country, Ukraine too, Moldova and others. We are at the point where we need to think deeply about these identities of Europe in order to preserve the cohesion of the EU, but also our self-image as Europeans. Both are about unity and diversity and our strategic commitment to cohesion.
Brexit and European defense: We should understand that Britain will remain European country with strong Transatlantic links. Anything else would contradict our interests – and probably the British as well.
Maybe Britain can be a bridge that brings the EU and NATO together as it should, in a very close coexistence. If Britain did that, with all its values and its Atlantic view of the world, then Great Britain can play a very positive and important role. Many Europeans have long been closer to each other in defense, but that has been blocked. The change came when the British did not take such a tough position given Brexit’s perspective. The United Kingdom has made it possible, as it were, to tolerate the fact that Europeans are now able to make European security policy much narrower than before, with the Structured Cooperation (PESCO) in a smaller group.
In addition, I believe, in 2016, a world situation in which we also felt that a closer European cooperation in the defense is urgently needed.
On NATO, Russia’s actions and IS: The threat situation for some European countries has become very, very noticeable – especially in the Baltic States or even in the Black Sea region, taking into consideration Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Added to this was the terror situation caused by the IS, which for years had not really calmed instability in North Africa and in the Near and Middle East. And there was added the way in which “across the pond” in the election campaign and then out of the White House was intoned, in terms of its relationship to Europe and the nature and significance of NATO.
China, Silk Road and European security: We see and know the steps that China has already taken including but not limited to its cooperation with innumerable partners along the new Silk Road, which reaches all the way to Europe. It’s about investments, loans, development policies. I believe that sooner or later all these gigantic Chinese investments will be accompanied by a security policy concept. We do not know this now. Only when we know this component will we have a complete picture of what China is up to. We must keep an eye on this aspect in order to be able to adjust adequately to the overall project.
What can we already do?
First step: I think it would be top priority to show European unity in all our actions vis-à-vis this Chinese project. European unity means that we behave in unison and not divide into countries for which Chinese investment or engagement seems attractive and for others who are more likely to warn or shy away from it. The format of China with 16 European countries – 16 plus 1 – should worry us.
Second step: There, where this Chinese Silk Road runs, are regions for which we Europeans also have strong offers. Europe certainly has a strategic approach to dealing with the Central Asian states, with the states of the Caucasus and several countries of Africa. It’s not about protectionism against China, but about promoting our own capabilities and intends to support countries interested in developing their links with the EU. We need to show the World that there is a European model that does not rely on dependencies but on the cooperative, prosperous development.
NATO and European Security: The core task is to keep the transatlantic coexistence at the level of recent years. At the same time, the European Union must reach “partnerships for security and prosperity” with neighboring regions in the Near and Middle East and North and West Africa. “We will need more Europe and have to make security policy as well as foreign and development policy more European”.
For North Atlantic Alliance, the strategic priority of action is to continue to make the Alliance united and strong. This task requires investment, even in Germany. “Within North Atlantic Treaty Organization, we still have an imbalance. Relatively more loads are on the American shoulders”.
Europe must be able to “take its security more into its own hands” and strengthen its European security structures. Much has been achieved in the past year. “We can better plan together with the new CARD planning tool, invest better with the European Defense Fund, work better together with the new PESCO Permanent Structured Cooperation system and better manage a military headquarters that will be further developed.”
“We need more Europe in security policy, and we must meet Transatlantic standards of quality. In the long term, there is only one choice: Either we will become more relevant to Europe in terms of defense policy or each nation will remain “proud but irrelevant”.
Wikileaks cables on Andreas Géza von Geyr
WikiLeaks has several files mentioning von Geyr. These files are rather old and do not illustrate Andreas Géza von Geyr’s opinion on current political issues. Nevertheless, these files are important if you like to foresee possible changes in Russia-Germany-US relations after von Geyr’s designation.
Below we cite WikiLeaks cables (Canonical IDs: 08BERLIN1365_a and 09BERLIN245_a).
Meeting with EUR/RPM Director Bruce Turner 02.10.2008 on Georgia and Ukraine membership in NATO:Von Geyr was blunt in saying that Germany saw “hardly any chance” for extending the NATO membership action plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine at the NATO December Foreign Ministerial.
Chancellor Merkel made this even more specific on October 2, when she told the press that the time was “not ripe” for MAP in December. Granting Ukraine MAP now had the very real possibility of fomenting instability and unrest given how divided the country was over the issue of NATO membership, and Ukraine needed more time to sort this out. On Georgia, the question was whether this was really the right time, so soon after the war with Russia. Extending MAP to Georgia now would be akin to rewarding Saakashvili for his irresponsible behavior in starting the conflict. Turner responded that MAP would not come close to making up for the high cost that Saakashvili has already paid for his actions, namely a humiliating military defeat and the long-term, if not permanent, loss of a considerable part of Georgian territory. Turner also noted that concerns about a negative Russian reaction to MAP should no longer play a controlling part in these deliberations, given that the Russians had already played this card. The damage was done. 4. (C) Both Von Geyr and Waechter said one of the German concerns about MAP, notwithstanding U.S. assurances that it was not a guarantee of NATO membership, was its clear “automaticity.” Experience showed that once MAP was granted, the discussion immediately shifted “two days later” to membership and debates about when the invitation should be made. Turner wondered if German concerns on this score could not be met by either an understanding within the Alliance or a statement by the applicant that the MAP period would last a set amount of years at a minimum. Waechter questioned the ability to enforce such promises, especially since MAP, after all, was supposed to be performance-driven. 5. (C) Turner asked what Germany’s proposed alternative plan was for fulfilling the Bucharest Summit pledge that both Ukraine and Georgia would become members of NATO. The Alliance was on the hook to bring these countries in, and it was not enough to simply say “no” to MAP. The credibility of NATO was at stake. Von Geyr agreed that the “strategic decision” to bring these two countries into the Alliance had already been taken, and it was now a question of coming up with a “tactical” plan to accomplish this. Von Geyr noted that Chancellor Merkel has confirmed the Bucharest commitment publicly several times in the past few months. Germany was by no means backing away from that promise. Schlagheck agreed with the need to be creative in devising a joint strategy on the way ahead. The main thing, he emphasized, was to avoid another public clash on this issue as occurred in the run-up to Bucharest.
Same meeting with EUR/RPM Director Bruce Turner 02.10.2008 on France-NATO relations:French were still on track to re-join the NATO integrated military structure and thought President Sarkozy might formally announce French intentions as early as the February 2009 Munich Security Conference, if not at the Strasbourg/Kehl NATO Summit in April. Von Geyr noted that the French had linked reintegration into NATO with reform of their military forces and a strengthening of ESDP. With the recent publication of the French White Paper on Defense and National Security and the recent or planned launch of several ESDP missions (including a counter-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia beginning in November or December), Von Geyr thought the French preconditions would be in place to allow NATO reintegration to be launched at the Summit. He acknowledged, however, that many of the details of that reintegration remained to be worked out, especially how the NATO military command structure will be transformed to accommodate the French and the degree to which the French will fill many of the lower-ranking positions at SHAPE and in other NATO commands.
Meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Marcie Ries. Berlin, February 24-25, 2009. Chancellery Director of Security Affairs Geza von Geyr <…>. On NATO and Transatlantic cooperation: At the Chancellery, von Geyr said that Ries’s broad outlines of new U.S. Administration thinking “very much” matched the German government’s own views. He said that unlike the lead-up to last year’s NATO Bucharest Summit, when there was a looming clash over MAP for Georgia and Ukraine.
Von Geyr also emphasized that Merkel was “doing a lot” behind the scenes to strengthen NATO. He said her decision to co-host the April Summit was expression of her commitment to the transatlantic relationship. He noted that the Chancellor has publicly advocated, and feels strongly, that NATO should be the forum of discussion of all key transatlantic security questions.
Same meeting. On operation in Afghanistan: Von Geyr noted that Ries’s emphasis on a whole-of-government approach to Afghanistan was in complete accord with Germany’s own concept of “networked security.”
Along those lines, he thought one of the main summit messages should be the need for more engagement in all areas, military as well as civilian. He underscored that Germany had already agreed to do more on the military side as announced by Defense Minister Jung in Krakow, with the deployment of 600 additional troops.
Von Geyr also confirmed that as soon as French financing concerns are overcome, the German government is ready to seek the required parliamentary mandate so that the Bundeswehr can participate in the forthcoming NATO AWACS deployment to Afghanistan. He said that the requested German contribution to the ANA Trust Fund could only come out the MFA and MOD budgets, since Development Ministry funds could not be used for these purposes; that could complicate German efforts to fully meet the request. Von Geyr raised the issue of how to deal with President Karzai during the interregnum between the end of his term on May 22 and the August 20 presidential elections. He said he was not clear what the U.S. position was, and that Germany did not want to take a contradictory stand.
Same meeting. On Cooperation with Russia: Chancellery welcomed the recent trip to Moscow by Undersecretary Burns and NSC Senior Director McFaul as a “good gesture” and noted that it had apparently gone well. Stanzel at the MFA indicated that Germany was ready to resume formal meetings of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) and noted that the Russians had suggested discussing Georgia and Afghanistan. While asserting that Georgia “doesn’t make sense” as an NRC topic, Stanzel thought Afghanistan would be a good choice and regretted that there was still no consensus to move forward on this basis. 23.
Von Geyr at the Chancellery did not speak to the issue of resuming formal NRC meetings, but made the point that the Russians were important partners on many issues (Iran, Middle East, North Korea, Balkans, etc.) and the West had to work with them.
At the same time, the West had to stick to its principles and be firm in voicing concerns, as Merkel had done with Medvedev regarding unacceptable Russian behavior in Georgia. He said the key was not letting Russia divide the Allies. He volunteered that Merkel did not care for the Medvedev European security proposal at all and saw it as a blatant attempt to divide and undermine NATO.
Cooperation with Marshall Center
Géza Andreas von Geyr is a very active member of Marshall Center community
– November 10, 2014 Andreas Géza von Geyr took a speech on the first day of the Program on Applied Security Studies of Marshal Center.
– In 2015 von Geyr took part in German Marshall Fund Brussel’s Forum
– January 23, 2018 Andreas Géza von Geyr had talks with Brig. Gen. Johann Berger, Marshall Center’s German deputy director, and members of the German faculty and staff.
- He also spoke to 61 participants from 26 countries who were attending the Marshall Center’s European Security Seminar-East (ESS-E).
This seminar was dedicated to hybrid warfare and numerous challenges Eastern Europe is facing these days. Among other notable speakers, there was Merle Maigre, security policy adviser to the President of Estonia, Director of NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. Transatlantic cooperation was mentioned as a key to effective management of hybrid threats.
Andreas Géza von Geyr was invited as a keynote speaker at 25th anniversary of the Marshall Center in Garmisch that took part on June 4, 2018. It was planned that Géza von Geyr will take part in this event together with U.S. Army Europe Commanding General Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli.
Some thoughts on the matter
Géza Andreas von Geyr has remarkably strong links in the United States. This fact wasn’t ever mentioned in the media, but it is important.
– For several years he worked together with Christoph Heusgen, former chief advisor on foreign and security policy to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Since 2016 Christoph Heusgen is the Ambassador of Germany to the USA.
– He met and probably succeeded in building trustworthy relations with current Ambassador of Russian Federation to the USA.
– Von Geyr worked in the capacity of Director for U.S. and Canada in the German Federal Chancellery.
– Andreas Géza von Geyr is active supporter of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. On this platform he could have unofficial meetings with top military officials of the US. Some of von Geyr statements on NATO are US focused (strengthening of Transatlantic cooperation)
All this implies that designed German ambassador to Moscow will strengthen positions of Germany as intermediary in talks between the US and Russia.
Not mentioning military cooperation between NATO and Russia, war in Syria and conflict in Ukraine, these talks may touch sensitive economic issues like Nord Stream 2, personal sanctions on Russian individuals and many others.
Some journalists speculate on the fact that von Geyr is a former intelligence officer just like the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. They believe that similar professional background will help in building mutual trust between von Geyr and Putin. Undoubtfully this is nonsense.
Since the Cold War intelligence agencies provide platform for confidential talks and agreements between countries. Designation of Andreas Géza von Geyr may be a huge step forward for both Russian Federation and Germany. To the opposite of professional diplomats and politicians who are hostages of public opinion and the media, intelligence agents have more practical approach to foreign relations.
We hope that political and business climate of Russian Federation and Germany will benefit of this designation.