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Germany’s foreign policy parameters 

The preamble of the German Basic Law stipulates that Germany’s role is to promote world peace as an equal partner in a united Europe. European integration and peace policy are thus laid down as cornerstones of German foreign policy. This also includes strengthening human rights and shaping globalisation in a positive way.

European integration remains the cornerstone

Germany, which is situated at the heart of Europe and is the European Union’s (EU) largest Member State in terms of population, benefits more than almost any other country from European integration. This integration remains the cornerstone of all German foreign policy. Intensive work on fostering relations with all EU Member States, as well as cooperation in further formats, such as the Weimar Triangle with France and Poland, are thus lasting priorities for Germany.

Dealing with the current refugee crisis and shaping globalisation are examples of foreign policy challenges that can only be resolved in cooperation with our European partners. The situation regarding refugees from the Middle East and North Africa represents the Herculean task of our times. This issue poses an unprecedented challenge to the united Europe and puts our cohesion to the test. Germany therefore advocates a more integrated European asylum, refugee and migration policy that is founded on solidarity and humanity. In order to achieve this aim, Germany supports the introduction of a binding quota system that will ensure a fair distribution of refugees in Europe.

Strong partners are vital as regards shaping globalisation. We are only able to take action within the European framework. A strong Europe is thus our answer to the challenges of globalisation. For this reason, the German Government supports the further development of the EU’s common foreign and security policy, especially a strong European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS should focus on the challenges in our neighbourhood, including the crisis on Ukraine, relations with Russia, transformation in North African countries and combating the causes of displacement in the countries of origin of the large number of refugees currently seeking protection in Europe.

However, the EU is also currently facing major internal challenges, for example as a result of the aftermath of the financial crisis and ongoing youth unemployment. As one of the most competitive Member States, Germany is therefore working to foster economic growth, social cohesion and efficient European institutions. In order to safeguard the cohesion of the EU, it is particularly important to support the European countries that have come under pressure as a result of the financial crisis.

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Refugee crisis – what German foreign policy is doing

German foreign policy is a policy for peace

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)

German foreign policy is a policy for peace. In concrete terms, this involves working towards binding rules and strong multilateral institutions, as well as activities in the fields of disarmament, crisis prevention and peaceful conflict resolution.

German foreign policy focuses on binding rules and effective international institutions that enable orderly and coordinated coexistence in an ever more interconnected world. It endeavours to further enhance proven and essential institutions and structures, such as the EU, NATO, the UN and the G7. However, new creative elements of order, partnerships and international consultation and negotiation formats, such as within the framework of the G20 or the talks between the E3+3 countries with Iran on the nuclear dispute, will be used in the future as required.

Arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons and armaments, as laid down in NATO’s Strategic Concept of November 2010, are also a key component of German peace policy. Germany supports 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. Along with conventional arms control, a world without nuclear weapons remains a long-term goal of German foreign policy.

In view of displacement and migration, mediation and conflict prevention are becoming increasingly important. New political initiatives to combat the causes of displacement in the countries of the Middle East and Africa are being developed and taken to the EU and UN. Stabilising collapsing states and curbing violence and civil war play a key role in this.

The success of the talks in Vienna between the E3+3 countries and Iran is a concrete example of peace-policy endeavours. In the dispute on Iran’s nuclear programme, Germany and its partners succeeded in finding a political solution to a conflict that had driven the world to the brink of military confrontation on numerous occasions. As a result of the agreement, the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear bomb can be precluded verifiably and in the long term. The agreement can thus pave the way to new scope for diplomacy in this conflict-ridden region. German foreign policy will make use of this for further political dialogue and closer links with the business sector and civil society.

German diplomacy helped to bring about progress in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Through its role in the Minsk agreements, Germany created diplomatic and political opportunities, which are helping to pave the way to resolving the conflict. Germany took on the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2016, thus showing its willingness to take on international responsibility at a difficult time.

The German Government continues to follow 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 international Middle East Quartet to get direct talks between the conflict parties started.

In Syria, more than five 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. Along with its strategic partners, Germany has imposed sanctions on the Syrian regime and is providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population.

In Afghanistan, Germany is active in the field of civil reconstruction and development and via the Bundeswehr. Germany is the third-largest bilateral donor to Afghanistan after the United States and Japan, providing some 430 million euros per year for civil engagement alone. Stabilising Afghanistan will continue to require extensive commitment on Germany’s part in the future.

A further concrete example for peace policy can be seen in the international endeavours to stabilise Mali, where Germany is actively involved in the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) and in logistical work on behalf of the international troops in the AFISMA mission. The support provided by Germany is helping Mali to make progress as regards curbing violence, criminality and escalation.

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Strengthening human rights and providing humanitarian support

UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council
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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 was elected to serve on the UN Human Rights Council for the 2013-2015 period. During its Council term, Germany concentrated on economic and social rights, as well as on protecting the rights of children around the world.

The humanitarian aid Germany has provided in the wake of natural disasters in the Sahel, Haiti and Pakistan has helped save lives and relieve suffering. However, the help provided by Germany is not confined to acute emergency aid. Germany also provides ongoing extensive humanitarian aid to those suffering as a result of civil war, such as currently in Syria, or as a result of “forgotten conflicts”, such as in Mali and the Sudan and South Sudan.

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New players – managing globalization

German foreign policy seeks to make the most of the opportunities globalisation offers and to minimise its risks. Managing globalisation requires ground rules. In this context, Germany is focusing on new issues such as resource security, climate protection, water-related issues, migration and freedom of the internet. The course for the future of our planet is set in far-reaching ways at global climate conferences, such as that in Paris in 2015. Germany has been campaigning for decades for binding agreements on ambitious climate targets.

Europe and the transatlantic partnership remain the cornerstones of German foreign policy. However, Germany is also concentrating on establishing and expanding partnerships with new global players. In recent years, China, India, Brazil and a host of other former developing countries have made huge gains in terms of political and economic clout. These countries are important players as regards shaping globalisation and have increasing international responsibility.

Germany also cultivates a very intensive dialogue with Turkey. In view of the current refugee crisis, it is vital to work closely with this NATO partner and to support the country in coping with the flow of refugees.

Within the framework of the EU’s strategic partnerships, Germany pursues a comprehensive approach in its foreign policy, in which cultural relations and education policy instruments, greater trade and investment promotion, intergovernmental consultations with major partners and civil society contacts all have a part to play.

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Crisis, order, Europe – Review 2014


Last updated 27.10.2015

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