Speech by Foreign Minister Westerwelle at the 49th Munich Security Conference

02.02.2013 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr Vice President,
Distinguished guests,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

This time last year, a lot of people were betting on the eurozone’s allegedly inevitable break up. Just as many people underestimated our political will and our ability to overcome the debt crisis and regain competitiveness. Much more reform has been set in motion than most people thought possible. We still have a long way to go – but I am convinced that the turn around in the European Union is well underway, with the right mix of consolidation, solidarity and structural reform to foster growth. I am bringing this up at the start of our debate on security policy because we will only ever be strong on the world stage if we are strong at home. Economic policy is part of security policy.

The time is ripe for an ambitious project that will make use of our strengths on both sides of the Atlantic. The time is ripe for a transatlantic single market.

Such a project would spark major impetus for growth and jobs. It would also constitute an important building block for the future of the liberal world order that is the foundation of our security and our prosperity. The rise of new centres of power and global players has accelerated enormously in recent years. A transatlantic agreement that covered investment, services, norms and standards as well as trade issues would be a convincing means of ensuring that Europe and America can hold their own in this age of globalization.

This boost for growth and jobs would also strengthen the central pillar of our shared security, the North Atlantic Alliance. In Lisbon and Chicago, we gave NATO a new strategic direction.

We can hardly expect to see vastly expanding defence budgets in cash strapped times. So we have to change the way we do things in order to remain able to provide the military back up for political conflict resolution. We aim to advance smart defence within NATO and the pooling and sharing initiative in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. It would send a positive message if we could make joint transatlantic projects and industrial cooperation programmes a part of this as well.

Any discussion of Euro Atlantic security has to consider the whole area, from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

We want to work with Russia to strengthen our security, including close cooperation on developing missile defence. We want to work with Russia to realize the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, via more arms control measures and greater transparency that encompasses tactical nuclear weapons and conventional weapons. We want to work with Russia to enhance our prosperity – in a common economic area, not by setting up rival areas. We want Russia to be our partner. It is vital to keep our eyes on that goal, particularly in times when opinions diverge.

Globalization has created value chains around the world that have enabled hundreds of millions of people to escape poverty. But this interdependence has also brought about new dangers. Cyberspace, climate change, refugee movements and terrorism have revealed threats. Though we have seen great progress, our world has also become more fragile in many respects. We have to keep asking ourselves whether our instruments of security policy are fit to address these variously asymmetric conflicts and global problems. Every conflict has its own dynamics and calls for a different combination of political, legal, economic and military means of seeking resolution. We need to reflect soberly on what means and opportunities we have and be realistic in the targets we set ourselves.

The international community has been striving for years to get the balance of offers and sanctions pressure right to counteract the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Iran should lose no more time in taking Vice President Biden up on his declared willingness to engage in substantive negotiations about its nuclear programme. Announcing that it is speeding up development on uranium enrichment is the wrong message to send.

In Syria, the most urgent task remains launching a political transition process. At the same time, the conflict there and the country’s dangerous chemical WMDs will reverberate throughout the region and present us with a Herculean task in security and disarmament policy for years to come.

In Mali, after the valiant military steps taken by France, the priority now is the long and difficult task of establishing lasting stability, with African partners holding the reins.

The fight against international terrorism will keep us engaged for many years. Strategically significant surprises and failing states will challenge our interests and our values in places that we couldn’t expect to predict. Germany’s commitment is strong and extensive. Many thousands of German soldiers are engaged in dangerous missions around the world, in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in the Mediterranean and off the Horn of Africa. I see Europe’s engagement in our neighbouring regions as a contribution to our shared transatlantic security.

Europe needs to develop stronger joint instruments in this increasingly fragile world. I mean that with respect to our military capabilities but also in terms of enhancing our comprehensive, networked approach. We need to have the whole gamut of civilian measures at our disposal so that we can prioritize political solutions. That is the central lesson of the last ten years.

Europe will emerge from its crisis stronger than it was thanks to a policy of collaborating and integrating more rather than less. That goes for economic policy, and it also goes for the realm of common foreign and security policy. Only by pooling our strength can we defend our values and our interests in this new world.

In that endeavour, strategic partnership with the United States is our strongest card.

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