Speech by Federal Minister Westerwelle at the 46th Munich Conference on Security Policy

06.02.2010 - Speech

Mr Ischinger,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world in which we formulate our policies is marked by globalization. Globalization is a fact. It is not something we can ignore or opt out of. We still tend to focus on the economic aspects of this globalization. That’s half the truth at best. Values and knowledge are globalizing. Insights and views. Lifestyles are globalizing, and certainly not always to our own liking. For often enough, this process also entails cultural losses.

The balance in international politics is shifting. That has happened time and again in history. However, it has never happened before at such speed.

Globalization is thus also altering the framework for our national and international security. Many people in this country are perhaps not quite sure where to find Afghanistan or Yemen on a map. However, developments there have a direct impact on us. Responsible foreign policy must address these conflicts.

Wherever problems become more global, responsibility also has to be spread more globally. This is the only way to prevent the interconnectedness which has evolved due to globalization from becoming a threat to our security. We therefore have to find common answers to the risks created by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to radical, fundamental ideologies, to terrorism, fanaticism and failing states.

Globalization makes these problems both more visible and more difficult to comprehend. A clear compass as well as jointly agreed and binding rules are therefore more necessary than ever for a far sighted foreign and security policy. I’d like to comment on three aspects of Germany’s compass.


German foreign policy is values-led and interests-based.

This is evident from the institutional foundation of Germany’s foreign and security policy. The European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance have provided such a reliable foundation for German policy for decades because they are more than clubs whose members have similar interests. First and foremost, the EU and NATO are alliances based on values.

The transatlantic friendship and partnership are part of the firm ground on which we stand. We have created an area of shared fundamental values across the Atlantic. What unites us is the special importance we attach to the freedom of the individual.

Germany’s commitment to the universality of human rights is part of this. However, this is not a policy of moral admonition. The principle of the inviolability of human dignity enshrined in our Basic Law is proof that we’ve learned the lessons of our own history. Protecting human dignity is the duty of all state authority. Persisting in our efforts to promote it and championing it all over the world is and will remain an obligation of Germany’s foreign policy.

I consider the development of new partnerships based on our solid foundation of values to be the key to a successful foreign and security policy in the age of globalization.

I’m delighted that my colleague Yang Jiechi came to Munich yesterday, thus becoming the first ever Chinese Foreign Minister to attend this Conference. And I’m also pleased to have my colleague Sergey Lavrov next to me today. The strategic partnership with Russia is not only one of the keys to European security but also vital for resolving global problems. We want this partnership and we want to develop it further in those areas where we have common interests. This includes a substantive discussion on the proposals on European security put forward by President Medvedev.

With other emerging powers such as Brazil, India or South Africa, we are linked by common interests and challenges, from which we have to forge stable partnerships. In London last week, we reached agreement with the Gulf States on common strategies to stabilize Yemen. The new approach in the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan was decided among more than 70 delegations.

Germany is participating in the stabilization of Afghanistan and many other peace missions on the basis of a UN mandate. The UN can only be as strong as its member states allow it to be. For us, however, it provides an essential, overarching framework for international security. Germany remains just as committed to the ideals of the UN as it does to providing concrete support in mastering the challenges named by the Secretary-General.


Germany’s foreign policy is geared to cooperation, not confrontation.

European integration was the lesson we learned from the catastrophe brought on us by nationalism, from the self-destruction of our continent which Germany caused. We helped to shape this cooperation model, and it has shaped us. However, its success is not a given. When it comes to Europe, many talk about the cost. We should talk more about what it is worth to us. United Europe will only be secure if my generation, which has never experienced war, suffering or hunger, is strongly committed to European integration. And my generation has a chance to extend this cooperation model far beyond Western Europe, perhaps even to the whole of the European continent.

The Lisbon Treaty opened a new chapter. The European Union has become more democratic and parliamentary. Lisbon is not the end but, rather, the beginning.

For instance, the Treaty outlines a common security and defence policy. The German Government wants to advance along this path. The long-term goal is the establishment of a European army under full parliamentary control. The European Union must live up to its political role as a global player. It must be able to manage crises independently. It must be able to respond quickly, flexibly and to take a united stand.

To achieve this, however, it must also be able to pool resources, set priorities and distribute responsibility – even in times of ever scarcer means.

The “permanent structured cooperation” instrument envisaged in the Lisbon Treaty provides the option of moving ahead together with individual EU member states in order to further develop Europe’s vision. The EU Common Security and Defence Policy project will act as a motor for greater European integration.

We want strong European crisis management. This is not intended to replace other security structures. More Europe is not a strategy directed against anyone. No one has any reason to fear Europe, but everyone should be able to depend on Europe.

The Common Security and Defence Policy is Europe’s answer to globalization. It is our contribution to the Euro-Atlantic security partnership.

NATO, too, is searching for new answers to globalization. We support its work on a new Strategic Concept that views security within a comprehensive political context. This will also bolster the Euro-Atlantic security partnership.


German foreign policy is peace policy.

Today the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons is probably the most serious threat to our security. The signing of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 1960s was an act that aimed at more than just codifying the status quo. Today it still contains a reciprocal promise: the commitment to non-proliferation, matched by the nuclear powers’ commitment to disarmament. One commitment aims to prevent the proliferation of the capability to produce nuclear weapons, the other aims to reduce existing arsenals of these weapons.

That is why the controversy over the Iranian nuclear programme is not just a regional matter, but rather an issue with global repercussions.

Iran has a treaty-based right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The E3+3 group has even offered Iran extensive support in this field if, in return, it provides proof of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. Our hand remains outstretched, but it has not been taken up so far. If there is to a new cooperative approach, Iran has to follow up its words with concrete actions. An agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on the issue of the Tehran Research Reactor would be a confidence building step. It would not be a substitute, however, for negotiations to ensure the civilian character of the Iranian nuclear program. A nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable for us. Such a development could lead to the destabilization of the entire region and to a potentially fatal impairment of the non-proliferation regime.

The other side of the coin is reducing existing arsenals of nuclear weapons. We therefore support the current US-Russian negotiations on strategic arms reduction. Success on this issue will also have a positive effect on the upcoming review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May.

Disarmament is not an unrealistic dream; in the context of globalization it is a necessity. Just a few days ago, we had a discussion in Berlin with Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Helmut Schmidt, Richard von Weizsäcker – unfortunately Egon Bahr was not able to attend due to illness – and their American counterparts Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry and George Shultz on how, as a next step, not only the number, but also the military importance of nuclear weapons could be reduced. With this, we hope to open the window of opportunity even wider.

At the political level, we also aim to achieve a “peace dividend” for Germany in the context of such a strategy. The last remaining nuclear weapons in Germany are a relic of the Cold War. They no longer serve a military purpose. That is why, through talks with our partners and allies, we, the German Government, are working to create the conditions for their removal. As part of this process, we also want to discuss confidence building measures with Russia as well as a reduction of its weapons.

We must take care, however, to ensure that nuclear disarmament does not re-open the possibility of conventional wars. Anyone who is serious about a world free of nuclear weapons, about “global zero”, must also take conventional arms control and disarmament into account. We will actively work to prevent an erosion of the Treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE Treaty). For nuclear and conventional disarmament must go hand in hand.


Many people may regard the vision of a world without nuclear weapons as naïve. But it is insistence on the status quo and overlooking the new risks that it produces that is irresponsible – not disarmament. Of course disarmament will not happen overnight, but why shouldn’t it be possible?

I was born in 1961. At that time, the Wall was being built right through the centre of Berlin and Germany. Some people had long given up all hope of reunification. And yet before I turned 30, the determination of millions of people to achieve freedom brought the Wall tumbling down. Visions are not policy, but it is impossible to shape policy without vision.

We find ourselves at the start of a new decade. The German Government will do all it can to ensure that it becomes a decade of disarmament.

Thank you for your attention.

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