Speech by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, welcoming participants to the High Level Regional Seminar “EU-UN Partnerships in Crisis Management and Peace Operations: Best Practices and Next Steps” on 12 November 2014

12.11.2014 - Speech

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Assistant Secretary Titov,
Distinguished Guests,

On behalf of the Federal Foreign Office, I would like to welcome you to this reception. We are delighted that so many colleagues from EU member states and relevant EU and UN institutions share our dedication to strengthening EU-UN cooperation in crisis management and peace operations.

Some of you might know that as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Center for International Peace Operations I feel particularly committed to civilian conflict prevention. Therefore it is a great pleasure for me to be here tonight and to share some of my views with you.

I would also like to thank the co-organisers of this seminar series, in particular our colleagues from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Your strong spirit of cooperation is greatly appreciated. Let me also thank our second co-organiser, the Center for International Peace Operations here in Berlin. You have done an excellent job in preparing tomorrow’s event. We are very proud that together we have turned Berlin into a real “peacekeeping center” for strategic thinking on missions and operations.

With such a distinguished and knowledgeable audience, explaining the importance of adjusting UN peacekeeping to the challenges of the 21st century would be like preaching to the choir.

I know that I don’t have to convince those who are already convinced. I will therefore limit myself to a few remarks on the issues that you will be dealing with tomorrow.

First, we fully recognise that UN peacekeeping can only be as strong as the will and the commitment of the UN member states. Germany is, I have to admit, a latecomer to UN peacekeeping. This year, we look back on 25 years of German participation in peacekeeping operations. But ever since Germany sent policemen to Namibia in September 1989, we have tried to be a reliable partner and contributor.

Currently, more than 200 German soldiers, policemen and policewomen are deployed to seven different UN peacekeeping operations – from MINUSMA in Mali to UNIFIL in Lebanon.

Many more serve in EU and NATO missions, in direct support of UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations. Germany is the fourth-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget.

Secondly, we are aware that international engagement also needs domestic backing. Thus, we note with satisfaction that both the German parliament and the German public generally approve the operations that the Federal Government proposes.

Just today, I briefed the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Bundestag on our proposal to extend our existing commitment of military personnel to UNMISS (South Sudan) and UNAMID (Darfur) for another year. I am confident that the parliament will approve both mandates on Thursday by a large majority.

Thirdly, we consider the EU-UN partnership in peace operations and crisis management to be one of particular significance. One year ago, at the European Council meeting in December 2013, the Heads of State and Government discussed how to strengthen Europe’s defence capabilities and how to make the Common Security and Defence Policy more effective and visible.

Over the last year, we have been confronted with a number of crises and conflicts at the same time – from the developments in Ukraine to the rise of IS in Syria and Iraq. In order to tackle these global challenges, Europe needs to use its broad experience in the field of crisis management. The member states of the European Union can contribute their civilian and military capabilities to the efforts of the international community.

Close coordination between the European Union and the United Nations will continue to be important for an effective outcome – especially while we are planning new missions. This will be the focus of tomorrow’s seminar.

The EU-UN partnership has come a long way since its beginning over a decade ago: the systematic approach and institutional set-up is there, as there is a joint will to further deepen and operationalise this cooperation.

Let me share two observations in this respect with you:

• First, there can never be too much coordination and exchange of information.

• Secondly, we have to generate and exploit synergies wherever possible. As we are confronted with a number of complex crises and conflicts at the same time, we have no choice but to share the tasks and burdens. We Germans are known for being good team players and we are ready to take on more responsibility in this process of burden-sharing.

I am convinced that your contributions and exchanges tomorrow will allow us to take the respective discussions one step forward. I also hope that this series of seminars will contribute to the Peace Operations Review that was initiated by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Assistant Secretary Titov,

Nobody in this room would be better placed than you to provide us with some insight into the Secretary-General’s thoughts on peacekeeping in general and the Peace Operations Review in particular. Let me therefore stress once again that we are honoured by your presence. And now the floor is yours! Thank you.

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