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Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the 'Pugwash' Conference on nuclear disarmament and international peacekeeping

01.07.2011 - Speech

Nuclear disarmament and international peacekeeping are at the heart of a conference of the international Pugwash network being held at the Federal Foreign Office from 1 – 4 July. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle underscored the long-term goal of achieving a world without nuclear threat.

Nuclear disarmament and international peacekeeping are at the heart of a conference of the international Pugwash network being held at the Federal Foreign Office from 1 – 4 July. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle delivered the following opening speech.

-- Translation of advanced text --


Ambassador Dhanapala,
Lord Browne of Ladyton,
Lieber Herr Professor Bahr,
liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen aus dem Deutschen Bundestag,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the city of Berlin.

We are experiencing troubled times. Europe is more affected than ever by events in its immediate neighbourhood, in the Arab World and in Africa. Longstanding conflicts from terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the alarming nuclear programmes in Iran and North Korea continue to challenge us. At the core of all these conflicts we find two types of states. Failing states and authoritarian regimes are located at opposite sides of the political spectrum. One is too weak, the other one confuses oppression with strength. But both contribute greatly to global insecurity and instability. These states are governed not by the rule of law but rather along the lines of “might is right”.

Freedom is not in contrast to stability. Free societies that embrace their diversity are even more stable than societies which are not free, but rigidly maintain an enforced uniformity. Instability and chaos are not the consequence of freedom, but the result of oppression and stagnation.

We work towards societies in which citizens are not objects of the state but individuals whose freedoms are guaranteed. We support democratic movements in their demand for a statehood in which power is not boundless but rather limited by a constitution.

Nation-building and promoting freer and more open societies are essential parts of Germany’s foreign policy. We are convinced that greater respect for freedom, democracy and the rule of law form the foundation for a peaceful future for the entire world community.

Promoting these values, promoting free and open societies, promoting nuclear disarmament and economic cooperation, in short: shaping globalisation means nurturing existing partnerships and friendships while also forging new partnerships. We do not diminish proven friendships when we seek new partners. Foreign policy is not a zero sum game. In the era of globalisation politics must keep advocating openness.

The historic developments in the Arab world are an opportunity for Europe to remake our ties with our neighbours. Jobs and prosperity must go hand in hand with political reform. Democracy must pay dividends in the everyday lives of people from all walks of society. That is why Germany has offered to establish a "partnership for transformation" with Egypt and Tunisia. We want to help create new and sustainable jobs, prepare free and fair elections, strengthen cultural dialogue.

Even after many years of iron rule, a dictatorship can be ended by brave men and women who take their future in their own hands. But it would be premature for us to celebrate the universal triumph of democracy.

On a global scale, authoritarian rule is still widespread. And we have to admit that our tool-box is limited when it comes to addressing this rule. Sanctions hurt, but it would be unrealistic to expect instant change. I would be interested in your views how to design sanctions that are smarter than what we have.

However, I am convinced that in most cases we must keep a door of dialogue open. When we cut off dialogue, we will cut off our means of interaction and influence.

Authoritarian regimes become most troubling when they seek to control nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea are the most prominent examples. But they need to be put in a larger context. After ten years of stagnation, disarmament process has got off to a solid start in this new decade. Last year’s conference on nuclear non-proliferation in New York produced an agreement. The Convention on Cluster Munitions has come into force last summer. NATO made the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons part of its new strategy. The United States and Russia ratified a new START Treaty on reducing strategic nuclear weapons.

This is not only good news for you as experts. This is excellent news for mankind. Disarmament is as important a task for humanity as combating climate change.

Even in the hands of democracies nuclear weapons are not guaranteed to be safe from abuse or negligence. The German Government is pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons. This spring, ten members from across the globe came together for the first ministerial meeting of our Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative here in Berlin. Within NATO, we want to include sub-strategic nuclear weapons in the next disarmament talks with Russia. Global Zero, a world freed from the nuclear threat, is our long-term goal. And we will always place these efforts in the larger context that includes conventional arms reduction.

Today in New York, Germany assumes the presidency of the Security Council for July. Our policy towards peace and security is deeply rooted in the United Nations. The answer to global challenges is a strong Europe within a strong United Nations based on strong international law. To retain its credibility as the cornerstone of international security and legitimacy, the United Nations needs to adapt to the realities of the 21st century. Africa, South America and Asia are not adequately represented in the United Nations Security Council.

I have only but touched on some of today’s imminent challenges to global security. In times marked by countless crises, we need to remember that probably the greatest European contribution to global security is peace in Europe itself.

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