– verbatim report of proceedings –
Mr President, Members of this House,
With your permission, I will depart from protocol for a moment and turn to my colleague Ms Zapf. I would like to take this opportunity, just before you address us today, to thank you very much indeed for the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed, on disarmament and security policy in particular and on foreign policy as a whole. You have my respect for your many years of work in this House. This may be the last opportunity to give expression to this respect when you are addressing the House. May I thank you very much indeed on behalf of the Federal Government and perhaps also on behalf of our other colleagues.
Ladies and gentlemen, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation are a focal point of Germany’s foreign and security policy. Indeed the two key pillars of our foreign policy are referenced even in the preamble to the Basic Law, which charges us “to promote world peace in a united Europe”.
There is a clear connection between peace policy, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation – particularly non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. All of us here, irrespective of party affiliation, see and stress this connection. We want to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. We want to work towards the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. That’s why we are committed to peace, to security, and of course also to stability through fewer weapons, the prevention of proliferation and increased transparency.
We all know from experience in the past that disarmament policy requires stamina. Sometimes disarmament policy also needs strategic patience, but it certainly needs to take a long-term approach particularly when the major successes are not evident at first glance.
Nonetheless, ladies and gentlemen, we can safely say today that even if we would like to have gone farther in some areas of disarmament in recent years, the successes are definitely there for all to see. We had a very successful conclusion to the review of the NATO defence and deterrence posture at the Chicago Summit last year. The Summit also strengthened the Alliance’s profile, including on disarmament and arms control issues. If you look at NATO’s strategies over the past few decades, it’s true to say that NATO’s commitment to disarmament is the strongest it’s ever been.
This is a clear success and an important step, because we all know that defence and security go very closely together.
The Chicago Summit didn’t herald a breakthrough, but it was a start. It is therefore all the more important for us to consider further disarmament moves. There are encouraging signs here, not least from the US Administration. President Obama is pushing ahead on the disarmament agenda with new vigour. We naturally support him in this. We want to have everyone on board.
But the priority now is to make progress in the dialogue with Russia. NATO’s offer to include the sub-strategic, “tactical” nuclear weapons in the disarmament process is on the table. The fact that NATO agreed on this, despite some differences of opinion among the member states, is a marked success, also for German disarmament policy.
We want to continue to support the steps towards disarmament taken between the US and Russia. We will continue to work towards a reduction in the number of weapons stationed in Europe.
The Federal Government has moved closer to the goals it set itself at the beginning of the legislative period. We have not yet achieved everything – indeed that was not to be expected – but we will continue steadfastly to work in the long term for disarmament policy, including nuclear disarmament.
The Federal Government is of course also keen to make progress on conventional arms control, because everyone can see that the one thing must not be achieved at the expense of the other: the price of nuclear disarmament cannot be conventional wars. So conventional arms control in Europe remains a crucial and indispensable part of any cooperative security architecture.
In this connection I’d like to say a few words about missile defence. The Federal Government’s stance on this issue is perfectly clear: we want more security and stability in Europe. We are convinced that this can be achieved only together with Russia, not against Russia. We want Russia to be integrated. We want it to be consistently integrated into a cooperative solution and the dialogue on missile defence. This is an important offer which the Federal Government managed to get through in NATO. It is not a matter of standing up against Russia. It is, rather, a project which, with Russia’s integration, will ensure more security on our continent and in our region of the world.
Since I only have a few minutes in which to speak, I would like to finish with a look at two other matters, namely Iran and North Korea, and then to close with a final thought. In the conflict with Iran, the Federal Government and its partners in the E3+3 format are pursuing the dual approach of showing willingness to negotiate and at the same time exerting pressure. We cannot accept Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. We want to prevent this through diplomatic and political means. There is general consensus on this. Anything else that is said is propaganda – propaganda against us, against the West, against Western and universal security interests.
Iran responded with positive comments to our offer of negotiations in Almaty, and I expressly welcome this. I have no illusions; but it is at least a recognizable indication of progress that agreement could be reached on the further process. But talks for talks’ sake aren’t enough; we need tangible, substantive results. Playing for time is not something we can accept.
The same is true with regard to North Korea. The Federal Government condemns in the strongest terms the nuclear test carried out by North Korea as well as its most recent threats of a pre-emptive nuclear strike and the cancelling of the Non Aggression Pact with Seoul. We are all of the same view: the bellicose rhetoric of the North Korean regime must stop.
I therefore expressly welcome the constructive role being played by China. We appeal to China to continue to play this constructive role in the so-called six-party talks too. The fact that China voted in favour of the most recent tightening of the sanctions in New York is an important signal, not least to the regime in North Korea.
Ladies and gentlemen, of course this is about our non-proliferation and disarmament initiative, but above all this is about post-conflict management. We remain committed to playing a key role in the destruction of weapons. Germany has a wealth of expertise in destroying chemical weapons, for instance. We are demonstrating this in Libya and elsewhere. We are prepared to make our expertise and know-how available to others.
We still have major tasks ahead: the fight against the proliferation of small arms in fragile states, for example, or our related strong commitment to a globally binding Arms Trade Treaty. We want the upcoming negotiations to be a success.
We want to see anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions disappear from the world at last. To this end, we set great store by transparency, dialogue and diplomacy in close cooperation with civil society.
All in all, the Disarmament Report is a report on successes, a report on good progress on disarmament policy. We will not rest on our laurels, however, but in the interest of peace in the world we will continue to work with wholehearted commitment, tremendous energy and above all with resolute stamina towards disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.
Thank you very much.