Speaking today (24 March) to the Funke-Mediengruppe, Foreign Minister Gabriel said:
“We are currently seeing crises, upheavals and new dynamics in many areas of international policy. One has the impression that the world is being measured anew – and that everyone is using his own measure. One thing, though, is clear: Asia’s emerging economies will occupy a key position in this recalibration of the world.
I am therefore convinced that we need to redefine our policy on Asia. We must intensify our relations with Asia and shape them more strategically in order to do even greater justice to the ever-growing importance of this region, with its population of over four billion and its rapidly expanding markets.
That is why I have decided to establish the first ever Asia Directorate-General at the Federal Foreign Office. The aim is to harness our regional competences more effectively and develop them further. The current structures still reflect in part the bipolar, Cold War global order. It is high time they were adapted to take account of Asia’s increasing importance.
However, that can only be a first step. It is important that Asia, as a key region for the future, becomes even more firmly established in our minds and in our day-to-day work – at the Federal Foreign Office, in the Federal Government, and in the EU.
Today more than ever, Europe needs reliable partners in the world. With that in mind, we want to further expand our existing partnerships in Asia and push forward on new agreements. We need reliable rules for free and fair trade which creates jobs both here and in Asia and which respects social standards. Furthermore, we want to do even more for conflict prevention in the region, as well as to strengthen regional institutions and to promote multilateralism.
This policy realignment must be flexible enough to take account of all facets of this complex continent. At the same time, it must be firmly oriented to the values to which we adhere and which we wish to defend.
More and more frequently, the paths to solutions to the global issues facing us lead through Asia. We therefore need openness and cooperation.”
With 38 embassies and consulates, we already have a dense network in Asia. Now we want to ensure that our structures and organisation in Berlin are geared even better than before to Asia as an important focus of our foreign policy.
The aims are to ensure greater coherence in our policy on Asia through improved coordination, to expand our contacts with Asian partners at all levels, and to enhance our competence with an eye to this important continent.
The establishment of the Asia Directorate-General is to be backed up with linguistic and cultural training programmes, as well as initiatives to enhance regional expertise and cross-sectoral knowledge of the region. We also want to promote the creation of flexible pools of experts and to foster exchange on the subject of Asia both among the ministries here in Germany and within the EU.