Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, fellow parliamentarians,
Combating terrorism is no purely military task, it requires a comprehensive political approach. The OEF mandate on today’s agenda is now just one aspect of our efforts over a broad front. Since the first OEF mandate in 2001, approved in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the participation of German armed forces in Operation Enduring Freedom has been progressively reduced. Already last year the main focus of our military operations in Afghanistan was ISAF rather than OEF, a shift that was also reflected in the terms of the mandate then approved here in the Bundestag. Since then our activities under the OEF mandate have been limited to the German navy’s participation in the maritime monitoring operation off the Horn of Africa and in the NATO-led Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean.
By summer 2010 at the latest – next summer in other words – the German Government plans to review whether there is any further need for German forces to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom off the Horn of Africa or whether the forces currently deployed with OEF in these waters should be redeployed to a multilateral anti-piracy mission. Germany’s participation in Operation Active Endeavour will remain unaffected. This review is not something that can be rushed, a Government that has not been even a month in office obviously needs to give it time and thought. And we will conduct this review in close consultation with our partners and allies.
While international terrorism certainly remains a serious threat, there can be no doubt that in recent years the gravest threat to shipping off the Horn of Africa has been piracy. This is an issue the Bundestag has of course discussed several times. That is the reason why we intend – as on a number of occasions in the past – where necessary to assign German forces serving with OEF to the EU’s anti-piracy operation Atalanta.
Other countries participating in OEF, including the United States, have drawn conclusions similar to our own regarding the changed nature of the threat off the Horn of Africa. Since early 2009 their forces in these waters have been deployed almost exclusively on anti-piracy operations. Over the months ahead the German Government will continue to follow the situation there closely and will review our further participation in OEF in the light of any new developments.
The planned review will also take into account our engagement in Afghanistan, whose extension was debated in the German Bundestag this morning. The German Government will of course feed into this review of our OEF participation any points that may be raised in today’s debate or in subsequent deliberations. It also goes without saying that the German Government will inform the German Bundestag without delay of the result of the outcome.
On behalf of the German Government I request that you approve our motion and the proposals I have outlined on how we plan to proceed. Although the views just aired in the debate are very understandable, I ask that this important issue of foreign policy be given here the attention it deserves.
Thank you very much.