In October, if all goes well, Germany will be elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Will the Federal Foreign Minister, who is active internationally, then clearly take centre stage, or is this more of a task for the Chancellor?
Let me start by saying how happy I am that the Chancellor is so active in foreign policy and that she is so successful on her travels worldwide. I’m also pleased – in spite of rumours to the contrary – that the defence minister cooperates so closely with me at both personal level and on many issues, for example Germany’s mission in Afghanistan.
Is he also a friend of yours?
Sometimes rivalries are alleged that simply don’t exist. We’re facing a major task, that of making the United Nation’s structures up-to-date, in other words reforming them. The UN still mainly reflects the post-World War II situation in terms of division of power.
Some people think this is just about giving Germany a seat on the Security Council.
Which is wrong. I agree with your criticism because I also think this view is wrong. We’re clearly seeing a great deal of support for our candidature because German policy is seen as highly reliable across the world. We’re now standing as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, and we hope we will be elected, but at the same time we’re also working on new structures, i.e. on reforms within the UN.
What are the arguments in this debate?
For example, it’s hard to explain why the entire African continent is not represented on the Security Council, and the same goes for South America. Let’s look at South America for example, which is one of the focuses of my foreign policy because I want to give Germany’s relations with this region a new quality. We’re talking about societies that have achieved breathtaking successes. For example, not many people know that the largest German business concentration outside Europe and North America is in São Paulo. That’s very impressive. That’s why I think we have good support in the world for UN reform.
Will you still be foreign minister when this reform really gets underway?
(...) You’re right to say that foreign policy in particular is something which requires patience. But if you remember how long it took, how many decades of peace policy were needed before German and thus European reunification were achieved, then it’s clear that those politicians with the most patience were the most successful.
For example Hans-Dietrich Genscher?
I’m thinking of Genscher, who together with Helmut Kohl achieved the NATO double-track decision in the face of millions of demonstrators and negative public opinion polls. Today everyone agrees that this decision was instrumental in giving Gorbachev the chance to introduce perestroika und glasnost, which in turn paved the way for the political success of the GDR citizens’ courageous stand for peace and freedom, and that led to the fall of the Wall, from east to west. So politics needs a little patience, a clear head and some staying power.