The heads of the almost 230 German missions abroad are gathering for the 19th time in June, this year, too, in a largely digital context. The focus is on the COVID‑19 pandemic and its consequences. How can European cohesion be strengthened both during and after the crisis? How are different countries coping with the crisis? And what will foreign policy look like in the wake of the pandemic?
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas opened the conference together with his Norwegian colleague Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide. In his opening speech he emphasised:
The opportunities and challenges confronting us as a result of the COVID-induced time lapse may not be new, but the urgency with which we need to deal with them is. Geopoliticisation, deglobalisation, renationalisation, but also quantum leaps in digital and technological transformation are just a few of the developments we want to discuss.
European cooperation, transatlantic relations
The main items on the first day’s agenda are European cooperation in the crisis, the future of transatlantic relations and the question of the global order in the post‑COVID world. Alongside Foreign Minister Maas and his Norwegian colleague, external guests include US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Jana Puglierin from the European Council on Foreign Relations.
The focus in the following days will be regional issues from all over the world as well as panels on topics ranging from international health policy, through the UN Security Council Agenda on women, peace and security, to cooperation within the Global Coalition against Daesh. The conference’s Business Forum on 8 June will also be an opportunity for exchange between business and diplomats.
Normally, the Heads of Germany’s missions abroad meet every year in Berlin. Like last year, the conference is being held in a largely digital format this year due to the pandemic, with some events taking a hybrid form with a small number of guests physically present in Berlin. German Ambassadors around the world will engage with one another through video conferences, participate in digital panel discussions and debate strategic issues.
Presentation of the White Paper on Multilateralism
On the first day of the conference, Foreign Minister Maas will also introduce the Federal Government’s White Paper on Multilateralism together with his Norwegian colleague during an event at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).