Foreign Minister Baerbock’s first trip to Asia: Focus on the climate crisis and security policy

Foreign Minister Baerbock is visiting Palau

Foreign Minister Baerbock is visiting Palau, © Photothek

06.07.2022 - Article

The G20 Foreign Ministers are meeting in Bali on 7 and 8 July. Why geopolitical issues and the climate crisis are playing a key role at the meeting and how Foreign Minister Baerbock is strengthening partnerships in the fight against the climate crisis during her trip to Asia.

Indonesia is holding the Presidency of the G20 this year and the G20 Foreign Ministers are meeting in Bali on 7 and 8 July. The meeting will mark the start of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s first trip to Asia, taking her to Indonesia, Palau and Japan. Foreign Minister Baerbock stated the following prior to her departure for Asia:

For many months now, Russia’s war of aggression has brought into clear focus just how closely interwoven issues such as foreign and security policy, international food security and the climate crisis are. We are all aware that no country can find solutions for this on its own. We all have a role to play. In the Indo-Pacific region, the climate crisis has demonstrated this in a dramatic way

G20: Coordination and consultations with international partners

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is meeting  Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsud during the G20 summit
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is meeting Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsud during the G20 summit© Thomas Imo/photothek.net

The G20 meeting is an important forum for discussing global issues. At the meeting in Bali, the focus will be on two issues: strengthening multilateralism and the global food and energy crisis. Both issues are highly topical as Russia’s attack on Ukraine is having a global impact on both the security architecture and food security. Ukraine is an important exporter of grain. With Ukrainian ports blocked by Russia’s war of aggression, millions of people are now at risk of hunger. Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasised the following:

Russia is killing not only with bombs but also by deliberately taking advantage of dependencies and by using hunger as a weapon. In this situation, coordination and consultation with our international partners are more important than ever. The voice of each individual country around the world carries equal weight, regardless of how large or small it is. It is therefore crucial that we keep looking beyond our immediate neighbourhood to figure out which points are of crucial importance for the decisions and actions of partners in other parts of the world. The G20 meeting offers an excellent opportunity to do just that. It is in the interest of us all to ensure that international law is respected and adhered to. That is the common denominator. And it is also the reason why we will not simply leave the floor to Russia.

Multilateral conferences bring together decision-makers from different countries – be it at the level of heads of state and government or at foreign minister level, as at the current meeting. They are thus also a good opportunity for holding bilateral talks and help to build trust as meetings can also be held in a more informal setting.

Partners in the fight against the climate crisis

The impact of the climate crisis is a key focus of the trip. Indonesia is extremely hard hit by the impacts of global warming and rising sea levels. At the same time, the country is making intensive use of fossil fuels and is one of the largest exporters of coal in the world. This is why Germany is supporting Indonesia’s energy transformation, including within the framework of development cooperation. In addition, work is under way within the framework of the G7 to establish a Just Energy Transition Partnership with Indonesia. The impacts of the climate crisis are particularly dramatic in Palau. The island state is at risk of being submerged as a result of rising sea levels. This poses an existential threat to the country’s people. They risk losing their homeland and their cultural heritage, and there are also legal questions – such as what citizenship they are given if their country ceases to exist. In Palau, Foreign Minister Baerbock wants to find out more about the concrete impacts of the climate crisis and support for vulnerable states. She emphasised the following:

There is a real danger that the rising sea level will simply swallow the Palau archipelago, a nation which only gained independence in 1994. The inhabitants of Palau would thus lose their very existence. This is above all a warning to us all that we must act as a community: the experience and the voice of smaller states such as Palau are crucial if we are to succeed in the fight against the climate crisis and uphold the international order.

Strengthening the international order in the Indo-Pacific

Stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region directly impact Germany. After all, important trade routes run through the region and German business enjoys close links with these countries. Moreover, rearmament in the region, which has been progressing for years, is a threat also to Europe. Stability in the Indo-Pacific is therefore playing an important role in Foreign Minister Baerbock’s first trip to Asia:

Few other regions offer more opportunities and yet also pose such immense challenges for the international order. The actions of all players in the region – whether it be smaller states such as Palau or major players such as China, Japan or India – will thus be the focus of greater attention in future. This is one of the reasons why my first official visit to Japan on Sunday and Monday is so important to me. We can rely 100 percent on Japan. In the United Nations, the G7 and other forums, we fight shoulder to shoulder for our shared values and the preservation of the rules-based order.

Germany adopted policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific in September 2020. The aim of this strategy is to strengthen Germany’s presence in the region. This includes expanding cooperation with partners in the region and diversifying relations. As a state based on the rule of law and a democracy, Japan is a natural and important partner for Germany in the work to implement this endeavour. The Minister will also discuss technological cooperation in Japan. She will, furthermore, commemorate the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.


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