Speech by Guido Westerwelle, Member of the Bundestag and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairsat the German Council on Foreign Relations Berlin, 21 October 2010

21.10.2010 - Speech

-- translation of advanced text--

Mr von Maltzahn,
Members of the Bundestag,
Ladies and gentlemen,

A few days ago, Germany was voted on to the UN Security Council. The vote took place only a few days after we celebrated the 20th anniversary of German unity. Both events can be regarded as a mark of the trust placed in Germany.

The election to the Security Council a few days ago and unification 20 years ago were both a sign of confidence and a gesture of faith in Germany.

In the preamble, the authors of the Basic Law mapped out a clear course for German foreign policy: “to promote world peace as an equal partner in a united Europe”. This guiding principle enabled us to gain the confidence which made unity possible. To this very day, our country’s course is determined by this guiding principle.

German foreign policy has been marked by continuity during the last few decades. It is reliable and calculable. It is guided by our values and interests. And it is an engine for political opening and economic development. German foreign policy is geared to equal partnership and a fair give-and-take.

However, German foreign policy is not static. It always reflects the world around us. The global balance is shifting rapidly. Today our largest export markets are France, the US, Britain and the Netherlands. As early as next year, China could move up to second place.

Emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil are becoming heavyweights not just economically and politically but also socially and culturally.

Our relations with these states are not just about trade and investment but also about our country’s vitality and competitiveness. That is precisely why domestic and foreign policy are ever more closely interlinked. As Foreign Minister, I’d like to inject some of the dynamism of these emerging societies into our own debate. Foreign policy is of growing importance in the age of globalization.

I wish that a country like Germany could expand its global presence in order to intensify political dialogue and external economic promotion. I wish we had more money for more scholarship holders from around the world, that we could fund even more schools where German is taught and learned.

But not everything we wish for is possible. Budget consolidation is painful but unavoidable. It also means cuts in the Foreign Service. But Germany’s voice will only carry weight in the world if it gets its public finances in order and keeps its economy on a growth course. New growth, not new debts, opens up new scope for action. Only an economically strong country capable of reforming can have real influence in the world in the long run.

For influence abroad is contingent upon strength at home. The ability to carry out domestic reforms and a society which places great value on education and innovation strengthen a country’s ability to exert influence in the foreign policy field.

This gives rise to three key guiding principles. Firstly, German foreign policy is aimed at strengthening Europe as a model for cooperation and integration.

Secondly, German foreign policy is, in the broadest sense, committed to peace, security and stability and promotes disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

Thirdly, German foreign policy is geared to seizing the opportunities offered by globalization for the benefit of all. During the last twelve months, we’ve mapped out the way ahead in each of these three spheres.

The European Union is the foundation on which German foreign policy rests. It is our guarantor of peace, freedom, security and justice. The EU is the insurance policy that keeps us prosperous. Germany will only be heard in tomorrow’s world if we act together with our European partners in the Union. Germany remains the engine of integration.

At the beginning of the year, Europe found itself on the edge of an abyss. Another crisis like the one in Greece this spring would severely test the Union. Another crisis could destroy decades of clear-sighted policies.

After such a fundamental challenge there’s no question of us carrying on as before. We need a European answer to a European crisis. This is the right time. We have to learn the right lessons now.

That’s why it’s so important that we take vigorous action now and negotiate with determination in the interest of Europe’s internal cohesion. Excessive deficit procedures against member states in the eurozone have been instigated 22 times during the last few years. Not once have sanctions been imposed. We know from our own painful experience that simply commencing the procedure doesn’t make member states change course. We don’t have to point the finger at Greece, for we Germans played a role in the watering down of the Stability Pact in 2004/2005.

The claim that Germany procrastinated and hesitated for too long during the Greece crisis this spring is wrong. Through our perseverance, we achieved much more than a mere voluntary undertaking on the part of Greece to implement tough consolidation measures. We brought about a turnaround towards a European consolidation and stability policy unprecedented in our continent’s history.

Our task now is to make this stability culture binding. First of all, we need a sanctions mechanism which is above political opportunism. It makes a big practical difference if sanctions are passed by a two-thirds majority, or can only be blocked by a two-thirds majority. Secondly, we need an amendment to the EU Treaties in order to create a robust mechanism for those countries which can’t or won’t resolve their difficulties. Such a mechanism must involve private investors. That’s what we aim to achieve during the negotiations at the European Council next week. That’s Europe’s challenge for the coming year.

I would caution against the renationalization of policies.

Germany will not countenance such a course. Those who respond to the euro crisis by calling into question the European idea have learned nothing from history. Germany unequivocally stands behind Europe, the European Union and a hard euro. Renationalization would be a mistake.

The secret of the success of European integration is the table in Brussels at which all EU states sit as equal partners with the same rights, irrespective of their size. Everyone has one vote at this table, and everyone is heard. The Union isn’t divided into important and unimportant states. Anyone who wants to make decisions without consulting other EU partners would damage the European idea and, ultimately, themselves. We were only able to overcome centuries of confrontation by cooperating and by regarding each other as equals.

Each and every country must respect all others.

In the enlarged EU, we have to take special care to cultivate our partnerships. That’s why it was important to me to visit all our partners during my first year in office.

Germany is committed to a more efficient Union. We want to use the Lisbon Treaty to this end. In the debate about the European External Action Service, we have always stood by the High Representative so that the EU gains a functioning instrument. Minister of State Werner Hoyer has made a considerable contribution towards this. A fully coordinated European foreign policy is only possible if the EEAS is strong. We’ve created the institutions and now we have to work on the substance.

The key achievement of the post-war generation is reconciliation with our neighbours and Germany’s integration into the West.

Today, we have to focus on ensuring that Europe also integrates with the East. I’d like to see relations with Poland reaching the level achieved between Germans and the French over the last few decades. We still have a long way to go. From day one, I’ve been careful not to do anything which could stand in the way of reconciliation and close friendship. That’s why my very first trip as Foreign Minister took me to Warsaw. That’s why we’ve again made the Weimar Triangle a driving force for Europe. This format is to take Europe forward at President and Head of Government level in 2011. That’s why I’ll decide together with my Polish counterpart in the coming weeks how we want to mark the 20th anniversary of our Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and support the forthcoming Polish EU Presidency. Minister of State Cornelia Pieper is working tirelessly on this issue.

Our common goal with Poland is a strong partnership with our neighbours east of the European Union.

We want to support their efforts to modernize, thus creating a common area of prosperity, rule of law, security and freedom. Together with Poland, we want to provide the EU’s Eastern Partnership with fresh impetus.

Russia is a strategic partner. That doesn’t mean overlooking or ignoring shortcomings in Russia’s society or mode of governance. Regarding Russia as a partner is the best way to resolve problems. Germany’s policy on Russia hasn’t been reinvented in the course of the last year. However, it has been integrated into an overall European approach. Today more than ever, the old and persistent suspicion that Germany was implementing its policy on Russia without consulting our immediate neighbours and other partners has been allayed.

Our partners in Europe have made the German concept of a modernization agenda their own. Russia has been more closely integrated into the European security policy and the Eastern Partnership. We are currently developing new initiatives to foster closer cooperation with a view to strengthening the rule of law. The trilateral cooperation between Germany, Poland and Russia was an effective instrument for better integrating our policy on Russia.

Even though we are focusing this year in Europe on crisis management, the EU remains a successful model with great appeal. We should use this potential wisely. If we hastily slam the door in Turkey’s face then we’ll squander a historic opportunity. For me, it’s quite clear that in our dealings with Turkey: “pacta sunt servanda”. We’ll keep our word. We’ll honour our pledges. We’re therefore doing everything in our power to ensure that the negotiations are conducted honestly as an open-ended process, and that they don’t lead into a dead end. I’ve assured my Turkish partners of this. I’ve advocated this course of action during the last two EU Presidencies. At the same time, we can’t reduce Turkey’s role to individual chapters of the negotiations. We’re talking about a proud, dynamic and important country whose pro European orientation is vital to us and which is gaining in power and influence in the region. The Federal President demonstrated this in a very convincing way during his state visit.

Europe works when it stands together. This autumn Serbia was faced with the choice of whether to move towards Europe or use the United Nations as a platform for a policy of conflict with Kosovo. Serbia wisely chose Europe. Making this happen was not the work of just Lady Ashton, William Hague or myself. Our united and unequivocal message paid off. Unity makes us strong. We’ve thus demonstrated that Europe’s model of cooperation functions internally and is effective in the wider world. Serbia kept its word.

That’s why it’s so important that Europe keeps its word. I’ll press for a unanimous decision on Monday to refer Serbia’s EU accession application to the European Commission.

German foreign policy is peace policy because it’s geared in the broadest sense towards greater security. German security interests are tied in with the European Union as well as the transatlantic alliance with the US.

Disarmament is finally recognized once more as an international issue of relevance to the future. I’m pleased how much momentum has been created over the last few months in the debate about disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.

The nuclear threat has increased rather than decreased since the end of the Cold War. Today we have more states with nuclear weapons. We have groups and organizations which want nothing more than to gain access to weapons of mass destruction. Non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control are therefore not an issue of the past, but rather a challenge for humanity today. We’re working to ensure that weapons of mass destruction do not become the bane of globalization.

The German Government is therefore pursuing the long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. To this end we support the strategic disarmament efforts of the US and Russia. We welcome the fact that for the first time the US Administration has stated the diminished importance of these weapons in its new nuclear doctrine.

I firmly believe that the withdrawal of the last tactical nuclear weapons from Germany remains a catalyst for achieving a much broader result. Substrategic nuclear weapons should be part of the overall disarmament efforts. They aren’t separate from the issue of conventional disarmament and we’re striving to bring about their withdrawal in cooperation with our allies. Germany will not act alone in this issue.

I’m confident we’ll adopt a new Strategic Concept at the NATO summit in Lisbon this November which attaches a degree of importance to disarmament and arms control unparalleled since the 1967 Harmel Report. After many intensive talks with the NATO Secretary General, who will be our guest in Berlin tomorrow, I know that he shares this view. I’ll then be able to inform him officially that we’re pleased to be hosting the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers here in Berlin next April.

In spring our efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime were successful and at the Review Conference in New York we continued to work to ensure that this key instrument is implemented. We want to extend the IAEA’s monitoring rights. Our unity of purpose also bore fruit in the nuclear conflict with Iran. Who would have thought a year ago that all of the permanent members of the Security Council, including China and Russia, would demand full transparency from Tehran? They did. That sent a powerful message. During the E3+3 talks, Germany played its part in the formulation of European sanctions. The aim of these sanctions was, is and remains to bring Iran to the negotiating table. Iran has now agreed to resume negotiations in November. I have no illusions that results can be achieved quickly, but I do believe this is an opportunity to move forward. There’s no alternative to negotiations.

In New York last month a group of states led by Japan and Australia joined forces in order to bring new momentum to global disarmament and arms control. We will meet again in six months in Berlin, at my invitation. Germany is playing a leading role in this group, for German foreign policy is disarmament policy.

Disarmament is gaining momentum. The talks on conventional arms control in Vienna, on an adapted CFE Treaty, are finally picking up speed once again. I hope that the US Congress will ratify the New START Treaty very soon. We are campaigning to ensure that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is not shelved indefinitely. We are firmly convinced that the new Strategic Concept should mark the start of a follow up process.

The NATO Summit in Lisbon in a few weeks’ time will show how close we and our American friends stand. But – on this I agree with my US counterpart Hillary Clinton – the transatlantic partnership alone is no longer enough. The alliance with the US does however remain our backbone, because nobody can contribute to peace and development around the world better than this transatlantic partnership.

The current discussion between Americans and Europeans on missile defence is a great improvement on the debate we had not long ago. At that stage, the talk was of bilateral projects between Washington and Prague, and Washington and Warsaw, which would have created zones of differing security in Europe. Now we are talking about joint solutions which have as their goal our common security in Europe, and which bring Russia on board. This is not just a great leap forward, but also a real chance to put relations with Russia on a totally new footing.

It is remarkable that President Medvedev has announced his attendance at the forthcoming NATO Summit. People everywhere are realizing that lasting security and stability in Europe can only be achieved with Russian involvement.

Throughout history, strong neighbours have always been potential threats. But today, it is weak, distant countries that are a challenge to our security. In our globalized world, failing and failed states and regional conflicts can have a direct and detrimental effect on our security. Crisis management far from our borders has become an almost daily contribution to security within our borders.

The stability of West Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan is crucial to our security. We have put our operations in Afghanistan on a new foundation. We have drawn sober, honest conclusions and defined realistic goals. We have closely coordinated this new strategy with our allies in London and Kabul, and above all with the Afghans themselves.

The situation in Afghanistan is difficult and demands the utmost from our soldiers, police officers, diplomats and reconstruction workers. But alongside all the problems, there is some good news. For the first time, we now have a strategy that clearly and unambiguously has the goal of transferring responsibility to the Afghans. This will have been completed by 2014. We are doing more for training and more for reconstruction. And we are actively promoting social reconciliation. We will not solve the problems by military means alone. A political solution is the key. The NATO Summit in Lisbon will ring in a new phase of transferring responsibility, which will start next year.

Germany and Europe are also called upon to do more for Pakistan’s stability. Afghanistan will not become stable until the region surrounding the border, i.e. also in Pakistan, has been pacified. A prospering and democratic Pakistan is the key for stability and security in the whole region. At the Friends of Pakistan meeting in Brussels last week we however also made clear that the country cannot rely on international aid alone, but must also make its own contribution.

I will soon set off on my third visit to the Middle East. We should not delude ourselves that we have the key to a peaceful solution in our hands. But we want to do all we can to foster and strengthen the fragile process towards a two-state solution. Germany feels a responsibility to play its part. We hold Israel’s security to be non-negotiable. At the same time, with the first meeting of the German-Palestinian Steering Committee this spring, we helped the Palestinians prepare for the responsibilities of statehood.

Germany is also playing an active role with respect to other regional conflicts, such as those in Yemen and Somalia. The planned but difficult referendum in the Sudan in January 2011 could be among the first challenges we face on the UN Security Council.

Nobody should mistake our dogged attempts to settle conflicts peacefully for a lack of realism. Our ability to stabilize failed or failing states is limited. There are no patent remedies, as the West has had to learn – sometimes painfully. We can play a supporting role. The more we take account of cultural and historical realities, the greater our chances of success. The most important prerequisite for ending violence remains the yearning for peace and readiness for reconciliation of the people themselves. Germany will continue to advocate a culture of restraint with regard to the use of military force. It is always a weapon of last resort.

Globalization is shaping our world. Our interconnected Germany is a living part of globalization; we live from globalization. Good foreign policy must therefore advocate openness. What is new is not international trade and exchange as such, but the dramatic speed at which changes occur. Nations used to rise and fall over the centuries. Now a few decades is all it takes.

We want to help shape globalization because it will have an impact on our prosperity, our society and our freedom. We therefore want to seize the tremendous opportunities that globalization brings, whilst at the same time subjecting it to a framework of rules.

Globalization has brought cross-cutting issues such as energy and the climate, natural resources, water and food, health and demographics, to the fore. Politics, business and academia are called upon to forge partnerships to find joint solutions. Conflicts in these fields are also increasingly becoming an issue for traditional foreign and security policy. To impose order on a confusing, multi-dimensional world we also need new partners.

Latin America remains an underestimated continent. We have systematically enhanced our relations with the countries of South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Our engagement for and in Africa, whose new self-confidence was tangible at the African Union Summit in Kampala, and our cooperation with partners such as Turkey, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia are all part of our strategy. We are doing more to embed emerging countries in international structures. Ownership and responsibility go together, both are part of globalization.

The new partners are visible as part of the G20. We want the G20 to integrate its work better with that of the United Nations. Germany has a considerable interest in the legitimacy and effectiveness of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and thus in their willingness to undergo internal reform. The globalized world and Germany’s interests call for both flexibility, on the one hand, to bring on board new partners and, on the other, for retaining tried and tested internationally legitimized institutions. Both ways forward must be effective. The greatest legitimacy remains with the United Nations, which makes it irreplaceable.

During my visit to India earlier this week I saw how a strong civil society and a young elite with a thirst for education can drive the development of their country. And in China, we can see each day how a new world power is striving to find the right balance between its own interests and the correct posture to adapt to the outside world. We are doing what we can to help, for example through our dialogue on human rights.

We want Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo to be able to accept his award in person, at liberty. He embodies values that we embrace wholeheartedly. China can be proud of its prize-winner.

China and India are becoming ever more important. But we are witnessing today not just the rise of individual countries. We are witnessing an increasing interconnectivity across all of Asia. That’s why I’m pleased when the ASEAN states want to know more about European integration. That’s why I’m pleased that we Europeans have concluded a free trade agreement with South Korea.

Three days ago, it was brought home to me by Indian students that knowledge is the decisive resource in today’s world. Education is the social issue of the age of globalization. In the long term, competition between education systems is the most decisive factor in determining whether nations progress or regress. This is the key to globalization, for good education can be provided nearly everywhere.

Values and interests belong together. This is true for education as for almost no other field. We are working to export the German dual system of vocational training, which combines apprenticeships with classroom lessons, since this also enhances the attractiveness of Germany as a technological location. We are promoting the teaching of the German language and joint research in future-related fields such as nanotechnology, energy efficiency and electromobility, since both language and research build bridges for the exchange of knowledge and thus also for the exchange of views and attitudes. Social mobility through education is made a joint experience. Students and researchers from abroad gain direct experience of our society, in which the equality of the sexes is a reality, through joint study and research. The spending of around a quarter of the Federal Foreign Office’s budget on cultural relations and education policy, language promotion and research and academic relations policy, contributes to globalizing our values.

Our human rights policy also uses the opportunities created by educational cooperation and economic relations. I take this as another example of the fact that promoting values and asserting interests are two sides of the same coin.

Promoting German economic interests on the world markets is an objective of German foreign policy. This objective is by no means motivated solely by money. Trade plays a significant role in the globalization of our values. Prosperity and integration create middle classes. Middle classes want civil rights, an independent judiciary, transparent and efficient authorities, less corruption and more political responsibility, all of which correspond to our values. A world in which hundreds of millions can rise to join the middle classes is a better world. People who can take their future into their own hands will demand and fight for a better society.

These people are our allies. These people appreciate it when we speak out clearly for human rights in our dealings with their governments. It is sometimes said that one has to choose between standing up for human rights and maintaining good relations with governments. That is not my experience. One does not earn respect by taking such “sensitivities” into account, one changes nothing by stepping too softly.

Many states want to share in globalization. But this desire is first and foremost one shared by billions of people. Individual freedom is the ideal route to participation. There can only be losers in a clash of civilizations. But everyone wins in the competition for the best ideas.

The best ideas include inventions. What we export most successfully are new technologies. For this reason the Federal Government supports innovative projects in the fields of climate, infrastructure, water and resources. As part of an intelligent foreign commodities policy we are promoting international renewable energy projects such as DESERTEC.

It is neither egoism nor altruism that makes German foreign policy stake its claim to shape the globalized world, but because we are part of it, a highly interconnected part of it. Only political action to give globalization a human face can prevent us, too, from being threatened by globalization’s dark side. Strengthening international law, be it by combating climate change or by prosecuting crimes against humanity, plays a key role in such action.

Interests and values are inseparable for German foreign policy. Humanity and compassion are values that make no distinction on the basis of skin colour or religious beliefs. I would like to thank all the Germans who gave generously of their time and money following the earthquake in Haiti, and more recently, when the Indus burst its banks bringing devastation to large parts of Pakistan. Foreign policy is not just about government action. Our image abroad is equally shaped by the generosity and readiness of our citizens to help.

An interconnected world does not need arbitrary values, what it needs is constructive multilateralism. If multiculturalism means giving up our standards and values, it is clearly a wrong turn. If multiculturalism means that diversity and cross-fertilization are more than ever a part of all our lives, at home and internationally, then “multikulti” is a reality.

German foreign policy stands for a stabilizing, rule-based world order. A world of shared norms and cooperation in a spirit of partnership is the best basis for peace and development. With this in mind, Germany stood for election to the Security Council. The world’s vote was a sign of confidence – the same confidence that made German unification possible 20 years ago – but also a call for us to prove ourselves.

We will put our backs into the two years of work that now await us. We will collaborate in efforts to make the Security Council itself reflect the realities of our times. We therefore want Latin America and Africa to be permanently represented on the Security Council and do not want Asia to remain underrepresented. Germany is also willing itself to assume responsibility on the Security Council on a permanent basis. Our long-term goal remains a permanent seat for the European Union.

We will bring our experience, our capabilities and our proposals to bear in the Security Council. We will not preach, but we do not have any cause to hide. Thank you for your attention.

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