“Preventing a new arms race”

23.10.2018 - Interview

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas interviewed by Funke media group on the US announcement that it is withdrawing from the INF Treaty.

Interview with Foreign Minister Maas
Interview with Foreign Minister Maas© dpa
Minister, President Trump wants to withdraw from a key nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia. Is the world heading for a new Cold War?

The end of the INF Treaty would deal a serious blow to Europe’s security architecture. However, we must not forget that there have for years been allegations that Russia was violating the Treaty. No convincing answer has yet been provided. To that extent, America’s frustration is not without foundation. But we have to make sure the baby is not thrown out with the bathwater. That would be a serious mistake.

What can Germany do to prevent a new arms race?

Even if it sounds as if the US has already taken a final decision, the Treaty affects essential European interests, and so as long as there is a chance to save it, we will use all diplomatic means at our disposal to do so. I will therefore work with my European partners, leaving no stone unturned in the effort to bring Moscow and Washington back to the table one more time. We will put the issue at the very top of the NATO agenda. We are ready to approach to Russia to persuade it to adhere to the INF Treaty. We are not prepared to risk starting a new arms race.

The Treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear missiles was originally signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. What could replace the INF Treaty?

The INF Treaty and the withdrawal of intermediate-range missiles from Germany are in my mind two of the greatest achievements of disarmament policy. We cannot allow them to be undone. The issue now, however, is not a matter of revisiting the debates of the 1980s. Today’s realities are a far step from the situation back then. NATO’s eastern border no longer runs through Germany, and we have to take heed of the fact that this debate is being conducted in our central and eastern European partner states against a very different background. That’s why we need a new European Ostpolitik today to prevent new divisions. For on this issue, too, it’s true that only if Europe is united do our words carry weight.


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