Germany’s foreign policy parameters

Germany’s foreign policy is value-oriented and interest-led. Its foreign policy agenda revolves around Europe, the transatlantic partnership, working for peace, new players and managing globalization.

Europe and its neighbours

Europe and the transatlantic partnership are the cornerstones of Germany’s foreign policy. In the current debt crisis the German Government urges the need to link European solidarity with improved fiscal sustainability and growth based on competitiveness. The aim is to create “a stability union” that will strengthen the European project and safeguard its long-term future. An important step in this direction was the entry into force on 1 January 2013 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (“fiscal compact”). Besides continuing to consult closely on global issues, the transatlantic partners have now added a new item to their agenda: the creation of a transatlantic free trade area.

Over recent years Germany’s relations with Poland have greatly intensified. Bilateral collaboration has made strides both in the Weimar Triangle – the format for cooperation between Germany, Franceand Poland – as well as in the context of trilateral cooperation between Germany, Russia and Poland. Special efforts have been made generally to strengthen relations with the EU partners.

The German Government is actively contributing to the further development of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. With its Weimar Triangle partners, it has launched an initiative to expand the EU’s planning and command capabilities for civil‑military operations and put them onto a permanent footing.

Germany wants to see an effective European External Action Service, which will refocus particularly the EU’s neighbourhood policy towards its eastern neighbours and its Mediterranean neighbours to the south, where massive changes are now taking place.

The German Government now has a so-called transformation partnership in place with countries in transition in North Africa. The intention is to help strengthen civil society, for example, as well as to support good governance and enhance social and economic stability. In response to a German initiative, the EU has likewise decided to launch a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean.

German foreign policy is peace policy

Looking into the UN Security Council (Archive)

Looking into the UN Security Council (Archive)
© picture alliance / dpa

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Looking into the UN Security Council (Archive)

Looking into the UN Security Council (Archive)

Looking into the UN Security Council (Archive)

Germany views security policy as a primarily multilateral task. It emphasizes the importance of networked security and a preventive approach. NATO’s Strategic Concept of November 2010 identifies also disarmament and non‑proliferation as important priorities.

Around the world, Germany is working for greater security and stability through disarmament, arms control and transparency. It endorses the long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Over the years ahead it believes conventional arms control will remain an important priority and is supporting a host of projects and initiatives in this connection, including the campaign to eliminate dangerous cluster munitions and bring small arms and light weapons under better control.

As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2011/2012, Germany has had a special responsibility to live up to. In this capacity it has sought to highlight issues it believes are particularly important, such as better protection for children in situations of armed conflict and greater recognition of the security implications of climate change.

In Afghanistan and the Western Balkans as well as in the anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, Germany has also assumed military responsibility with the aim of ensuring that UN decisions are indeed implemented. While Germany’s civil engagement in Afghanistan has been stepped up, withdrawal by the end of 2014 has for the first time been identified as a realistic prospect. The International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn in December 2011 gave further momentum to the political process in Afghanistan and the long-term partnership with the country.

Germany is also actively involved in international efforts to stabilize Mali. In February 2013 the German Bundestag approved plans for the Bundeswehr to participate in the EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) and provide logistic support to the international forces serving with the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

In Syria, more than two years after the start of the uprising against the Assad regime, the international community is still searching for a way to end the violence. Germany wants to see a political solution to the conflict. Together with its EU partners, Germany has imposed sanctions on the Syrian regime and is providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population.

The German Government follows developments in the Middle East conflict with keen attention, particularly in the light of the special responsibility Germany bears, by reason of its history, for Israel’s security. Besides supporting state-building in the Palestinian territories, Germany is backing the efforts of the Middle East Quartet to get direct talks between the conflict parties started.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, Germany continues to work in the E3+3 Group (Germany, France, Britain, the United States, Russia and China) for a diplomatic solution to the problem. Iran remains called upon to cooperate with the international community and allay doubts as to the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

New players – managing globalization

German foreign policy seeks to make the most of the opportunities globalization offers and to minimize its risks. Managing globalization requires groundrules. In this context Germany is focusing also on new themes such as resource security, climate protection, water-related issues, migration and freedom of the Internet.

Although Europe and the transatlantic partnership remain its cornerstones, German foreign policy is now also focusing on forging and developing partnerships with new major players. In recent years China, India and Brazil and a host of other former developing countries have made huge gains in terms of political and economic clout. In February 2012, the German Government approved a strategy paper entitled “Shaping globalization – expanding partnerships – sharing responsibility”.

Within the framework of the EU’s Strategic Partnerships, Germanypursues here a comprehensive approach, in which cultural relations and education policy instruments, intensified external economic promotion, intergovernmental consultations with major partners as well as civil society contacts all have a part to play.

With Turkey, too, Germany cultivates a very intensive dialogue. Latin America and Africa are highly dynamic regions, to which the Government’s two new regional concepts seek to do justice.

Germany depends on being open and connected to the wider world. The German Government is therefore now in the process of developing a less bureaucratic visa policy.

Human rights and humanitarian aid

UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council
© picture-alliance/dpa

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UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council

Respect for human rights is the best peace policy there can be. Tenacious campaigning for universal and inviolable human rights is an important part of a value-oriented foreign policy. Germany has been elected to serve on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for the period 2013 to 2015. During its Council term Germany plans to concentrate on economic and social rights as well as protecting the rights of children around the world.

The humanitarian assistance Germany has provided in the wake of natural disasters in the Sahel, Haiti and Pakistan has helped save lives and relieve suffering. Germany is also delivering considerable humanitarian assistance to the victims of the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Mali and between the Sudan and South Sudan.

"We are rightly expected to become involved" - Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier outlines his foreign policy. Published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 30 January 2014.

Last updated 28.03.2013

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