On 9 May, Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, took part in a high-level debate in New York on the state of play in UN peace and security policy. He also held talks with Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, and Sigrid Kaag, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon. In addition, his agenda included meetings with civil-society organisations, discussions with students and a reception with German UN staff.
The UN’s great importance in solving international problems
In his speech at the debate on the topic, “In a World of Risks: A New Commitment for Peace”, the German Minister of State highlighted the UN’s great importance in solving almost all current international problems. Roth was critical of those who saw the UN as part of the “old order”. “The UN is and remains the only truly global forum,” he said. However, he also pointed out the urgent need for reform and outlined what Germany regards as the five important areas to be reformed.
Important topic: the global refugee situation
The focus of Roth’s talks with Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, and Sigrid Kaag, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, was on the global refugee situation. Both Eliasson and Kaag highlighted the great support provided by Germany to the international community.
For example, Germany had pledged 330 million euros in 2016 to Lebanon alone, thus providing major support in the tense situation. It was also helping in other ways. UN Special Coordinator Kaag underlined the dramatic nature of the situation. “In the daily news and in view of the large number of crises, Lebanon is at risk of fading into the background at times. I can only warn about the danger of this, as the supposed current stability is extremely fragile.”
Discussion on Europe
The German Minister of State took advantage of Europe Day to meet German students and interns, with whom he discussed Europe. The refugee crisis and the current agreement between the EU and Turkey were naturally the focus of these talks, too. “Every now and then, the view from outside helps us Europeans to realise what an enormous privilege it is to live in a peaceful and united Europe. We should not give this gift carelessly away. All efforts are worthwhile to prevent this,” Roth said.
Minister of State Roth was particularly impressed by his meeting with members of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBTI* Jewish community.
Rabbi Bauer and his congregation can look back on over four decades of efforts to promote equal opportunities and recognition. The congregation’s new synagogue is a lively meeting place for Jews and non‑Jews alike.
*LGBTI: lesbian, gay, bi-, trans- and intersexual