Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the presentation of the German Government’s strategy paper “Shaping Globalization – Expanding Partnerships – Sharing Responsibility” in the Weltsaal of the Federal Foreign Office on 8 February 2012

08.02.2012 - Speech

- Check against delivery! -

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The German Cabinet has today approved the strategy paper “Shaping Globalization – Expanding Partnerships – Sharing Responsibility”. On this occasion I’d like to thank also all my colleagues in other ministries who’ve been involved in the work on this document.

Our partnerships in Europe and across the Atlantic are the cornerstone of Germany’s foreign policy. That’s always been the case and that’s how it will remain. Especially at this juncture, as we deal with the sovereign debt crisis, we believe the way forward is more Europe and not less Europe.

But the world around us is changing. New players are emerging in Asia, Latin America and other parts of the world. Europe accounts for an ever smaller share of the world population. China is now the world’s second largest economy. Brazil has overtaken Britain. The emerging economies have larger foreign exchange reserves than the industrialized countries; right now they’re responsible for most of the global economic growth.

The purpose of our strategy paper is to examine the implications of these changes for our foreign policy and how best to respond to them.

Booming economies in an increasing number of countries – in our view this is a key change and one today that fundamentally affects the way world affairs are conducted.

This signifies first and foremost a huge success. The right to development is not something to which we only pay lip service. As a major development cooperation donor, we’ve been working actively for years to make it reality on the ground. Better integration of the emerging economies into the world economy has made a big difference, too: by 2005 the number of people living in poverty had actually fallen by 400 million – despite population growth. And the rise of new players, let’s remember, doesn’t spell the decline of others. What we’re dealing with here is not a zero-sum game. Growth in these new players means for us here, for our exporters, new opportunities.

A globalized world and the rise of major new players pose a two-fold challenge, however. New global issues need to be addressed – and that requires cooperation also with more and new partners.

Obviously there are considerable differences between these new players.And of course we also believe values are important here.

These new players with their growing economic clout are more than simply “emerging economies” in our view. We see them as new players with a voice in the conduct of world affairs. In the political and cultural field, too, many have acquired considerable new standing. They assume responsibility and they rightly aspire to a greater say in the conduct of world affairs.

With these countries we’re keen to forge new partnerships. Anyone seeking to shape globalization, after all, needs strong partners.

Our strategy here has three objectives. Firstly, it defines and spells out the German Government’s goals in the wider world. Secondly, it seeks to show partners what enhanced cooperation might look like. And thirdly, it ensures that interministerial decision-making is duly coordinated. This will make for greater consistency across the whole spectrum of our foreign policy.

Germany is working to make globalization a rules-based process. Financial market stability has long been a global issue. Climate change, food prices, natural resources: these are increasingly pressing issues in a world of seven billion people and more and more countries embarked on industrialization. And in an interconnected and interdependent world things like world trade rules are not just a question of economic efficiency but of political stability, too.

It’s now increasingly difficult to make any real distinction between domestic and foreign policy issues. Ever more questions are the subject of international negotiations. Engaging in cooperation in areas ranging from environmental policy to energy issues and disarmament means working also with new actors. And of course we’re involved in fostering cultural, academic and civil society contacts, too.

The Federal Foreign Office and our missions around the world provide a platform for the conduct of German foreign policy. In today’s world, however, this can be done successfully only by networking with a host of different actors. Hence our strategy paper also describes systematically the wide variety of cooperation formats we employ.

In global governance councils the new players must have their rightful place. Even at an early stage Germany pressed for them to be duly represented in international forums ranging from the G8, the UN Security Council to the IMF and the World Bank. That’s where they are needed.

As a partner Germany has much to offer at the bilateral level, too. Our companies pursue a sustainable business model and are the world’s second largest investors. We have expertise that’s highly sought-after by countries whose societies are changing at breakneck speed: expertise in the workings of the social market economy, in tackling environmental and energy problems or – something much in demand – in the way our dual system of vocational training functions.

Germany is a reliable and committed partner, too, in the area of security policy. Vis-à-vis the new players, too, we want to act as honest brokers at the United Nations or in other arenas.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law: that’s what western countries are all about. The universality of human rights is something that for us is not open to question. When we talk about these fundamentals, we’re not trying to impose our way of life on others. That would anyway be quite impossible. What we can do, however, is set a good example and offer assistance if wanted. We can do this with confidence, knowing as we do what a powerful message these values of ours have for others.

The rule of law, human rights and democracy are key to stability, economic development and peace. That’s not political theory. Right now it means, for instance, that the international community owes it to people in Syria that the UN Security Council act with urgency in this matter.

Obviously Germany and the new players on the world stage already have close ties, not only in the economic field. With some of these players our links go back a long way. What we aim for now is to make these partnerships deeper and broader in thematic scope, for the benefit of both sides and with due responsibility for the common good.

Here I’m thinking not just of the oft-cited “BRICS” countries. Plenty of other countries are heading in the same direction – Mexico, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Colombia and many more besides. And of course Germany will remain for all of them – as for others – an open-minded and committed partner, at the bilateral level, at the United Nations – the key global governance organ – and elsewhere.

If in a multipolar world our voice is to continue to be heard, we need more than ever a strong and united Europe. The strategy we’re presenting complements European approaches such as the “strategic partnerships”, which we’re also taking forward in Brussels. Europe is not a has-been. Europe is our future, for in a globalized world Europe is our way forward.

Thank you for your attention.

Related content


Top of page