On 4 March 2015, the Federal Cabinet approved the Annual Disarmament Report for 2014. For the German Government, disarmament and arms control are cornerstones of German foreign and security policy.
In his foreword to the Annual Disarmament Report, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed that it covers a period marked by an especially large number of conflicts around the globe. He continued: “Our security and our prosperity depend on the resolution of crises, particularly on the prevention of armed conflicts. Disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation are key instruments of conflict prevention and post-conflict stabilisation.” Steinmeier reaffirmed that there are no “quick‑fix overnight solutions”, for:
Progress in disarmament and arms control are usually gradual, rarely sensational.
Disarmament in 2014: Successes and perseverance
The German Foreign Minister also made it clear that “significant progress” had been made in 2014. It had been possible to destroy almost all declared Syrian chemical weapons. Furthermore, in 2014 the Arms Trade Treaty entered into force. Steinmeier also speaks in this connection of progress in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme: In early 2014, Iran’s nuclear programme was provisionally halted and partially reversed thanks to the Geneva Joint Plan of Action.
However, the Ukraine crisis placed a strain on the international disarmament efforts in 2014. Foreign Minister Steinmeier emphasised that “urgently needed progress on nuclear disarmament was set back”. It was now especially important to work towards strengthening the Non‑Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Ukraine crisis: Furthering strengthening the OSCE
The report stresses the great importance of confidence‑building measures and efforts to create transparency in times of crisis. In his foreword, Foreign Minister Steinmeier also addresses necessary adjustments to the system of conventional arms control in Europe, especially against the background of “hybrid warfare”.
Looking ahead to Germany’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2016, Steinmeier stresses: “(...) we have an opportunity to play a part in shaping the future of Europe’s security architecture responsibly and to strengthen the OSCE as a whole as the organisation for cooperative security in Europe. The preparations for Germany’s chairmanship are in full swing.”
Germany also holds the presidency of the G7 in 2015: In this connection, the Disarmament Report sets out the goal of gaining better control of small arms. Every year, several tens of thousands of people are killed by small arms such as machine guns and hand grenades in conflicts around the world.