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Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism: Federal Foreign Office strengthens measures in the area of cultural relations and education policy

Meeting of the Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism

Meeting of the Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism, © dpa

26.11.2020 - Article

From international research projects to youth exchanges to coming to terms with colonialism, the Federal Foreign Office is sending a strong signal rejecting right-wing extremism, antisemitism and racism with new and strengthened measures.

Federal Government contributes one billion euro

With the NSU murders, Christchurch, Utøya, right-wing extremist attacks are on the rise around the world. At no other point in the past 50 years have there been more right-wing terrorist acts than today – this is the conclusion reached by the Global Terrorism Index 2020 of the Institute for Economics and Peace.

A Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism was set up under the leadership of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at the beginning of 2020. This committee has now drafted a catalogue of 89 specific measures. The Federal Government intends to make more than one billion euro available for these projects between 2021 and 2024.

International networking of the right-wing scene

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism© dpa

The issue is also a key priority of German foreign policy. Racism, right-wing extremism and antisemitism threaten core values of German foreign policy, human rights, democracy and freedom. In addition, violent right-wing extremist associations are networking to an increasing extent at the international level both online and also at martial arts and music events, for example. In addition to national measures, projects across national borders also play an important role in combating this.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised the following:

Nationalists have joined forces at international level. We not only have to work together to tackle the virus but also right-wing extremism, which is toxic for our democracies.

Initiatives from the Federal Foreign Office: international research projects, coming to terms with colonialism, expanding cultural programme work

The measures that the Foreign Office has brought to the Cabinet Committee are therefore primarily aimed at the international and cultural dimension of this issue. With its cultural relations and education policy, the Federal Foreign Office facilitates access to culture and education beyond geographical, social and political borders, brings people around the world into contact with each other and thus promotes mutual understanding. The Federal Foreign Office will therefore expand its cultural programme work to combat right-wing extremism, racism and antisemitism.

In particular, the focus will be on expanding international youth exchange programmes, strengthening education and teaching values at German schools abroad and partner schools, and expanding international visits to memorials. The reappraisal of colonialism will also be strengthened through new international initiatives such as joint textbook projects and the expansion of the “kulturweit” volunteer programme.

Another key priority is the planned expansion of existing international networks in international academic cooperation in the field of research on racism, antisemitism and right-wing extremism, for example through the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Federal Foreign Office will also continue to take action against targeted disinformation, which exacerbates societal divisions and can thus fuel racism and right-wing extremism.

Furthermore, in the future, input from outside Germany will reach the country through centres for international cultural education at branches of the Goethe-Institut in Germany, which will be established in collaboration with the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

In addition to new projects and initiatives to combat right-wing extremism, racism and antisemitism, the Federal Foreign Office will itself subject the structures of foreign cultural and education policy to a detailed analysis from outside. In the course of a new diversity strategy, participation and diversity will then be defined as permanent core and cross-cutting Tasks.

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