What is the significance of the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul? In your opinion, what are the most pertinent agenda items to be addressed at the Seoul summit? What results do you expect from the summit? How do you think future summits should progress?
Non-Proliferation and Disarmament are core areas of German foreign policy. The uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear material is one of the great security threats of today. In Seoul, only 50 Kilometres from the demilitarized zone to the North, the dangers of nuclear proliferation are more than evident. More needs to be done to prevent nuclear proliferation and to safeguard nuclear and radioactive material from theft, sabotage, unauthorized access and illegal transfers. The Nuclear Security Summit will give an additional political impetus to global efforts to improve nuclear security and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear material worldwide. Our aim must be to build a reliable global architecture for nuclear security.
Does your country have a particular issue it would like to bring up at the Seoul summit?
At the Washington summit leaders focused strongly on securing weapons-usable nuclear material. In my view it is equally important to secure other radioactive material. Germany has launched an initiative to improve standards for securing highly radioactive sources. Already more than a dozen participant-countries of the Nuclear Security Summit have said they will support this approach.
Germany has decided to completely phase out nuclear power plants by 2022. What will your country do to prepare for a resulting possible power shortage?
By 2022, Germany will have phased out nuclear energy. Until then, we will invest strongly in renewable energies. We have set ourselves an ambitious goal. But I am optimistic that we will achieve it. The technological gains will be enormous. Renewable energy is an industry of the future. We invite our partners to work with us to make full use of the opportunities which result.
What is your assessment of the level of bilateral cooperation between Germany and the Republic of Korea? In your view, what is the most important thing needed to further develop bilateral ties?
Our diplomatic ties date back to the end of the 19th century when the first bilateral treaty on trade and friendship was signed. Our modern cooperation started In the 1960s. Today, South Korea is our third largest economic partner in Asia, about 800 German companies in Korea employ around 80,000 people. Korea has become a key partner in technological development and we welcome the growing cooperation in this sector very much. Our partnership is marked by friendship and respect and we work to develop it even further.
Is there anything you would like to tell the Korean people?
In 1988 only few Germans believed in Reunification. A year later the Berlin Wall came down. Change is possible. I wish you not to loose confidence in the power of freedom and in the future of a reunified Korea.
Your country is leading the eurozone along with France. What should be done for the future development of the eurozone and the entire European region? Germany is speeding up the consolidation of Europe as a way of fighting the eurozone debt crisis. What should be the final destination of European consolidation?
The debt crisis has turned into a serious crisis of confidence. In order to overcome the crisis we have shown financial solidarity with our partners in trouble, but did also a lot to increase fiscal solidity and sound budget rules. The fiscal compact lays down binding rules to strengthen budgetary discipline on a durable basis. We are working together to increase European competitiveness which is a precondition for growth. In other words: Europe is back on track.
There are concerns that Germany's efforts to consolidate Europe are intended at Germanizing the region. What is your response to that criticism?
There is a broad consensus that the answer to the current crisis has to be “more Europe”, not “less Europe”. Germany is deeply committed to Europe. We want a European Germany, not a German Europe.