-- Check against delivery --
Ladies and Gentlemen,
as Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of the Center for International Peace Operations I am delighted to welcome you to Berlin.
It is always a great pleasure to see so many brilliant people from such important institutions from all around the world coming together here at the ZIF. We consider you not only formal members of the International Advisory Board, but also part of this wonderful family that ZIF stands for.
I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our new “family members”. Thank you for being here today and sharing your expertise and insight with us!
Some relevant things have changed tremendously since we last met in April 2017:
We are confronted with growing populism, nationalism and isolationism all around the world. A very important actor – the United States – is seriously pondering the withdrawal from international institutions and from the principles of shared values and responsibility. This is a huge challenge not only for Germany, but for the whole European Union. Our response to 'America First' can only be 'Europe United'.
Since March, Germany has a new government which is fully aware of these challenges and threats, which is committed to live up to its international responsibility and willing to defend the multilateral system. We are convinced that this system is the best way to guarantee peace and justice for all.
Therefore, it was a very important step for our work, when in July 2017 the new Law on Secondments entered into force. This law fundamentally changes the way the ZIF does business. It dramatically improves the social and financial security of seconded personnel. It makes the ZIF much more attractive as an employer and helps it competing for the best potential secondees.
It also changes fundamentally the way ZIF and the Federal Foreign Office co-operate in pursuing our common aims. The ZIF now is the contracting partner for the seconded personnel and has therefore a much bigger duty of care.
Although implementation of these new structures has not yet been fully completed in all areas, I am convinced that we can consider the reform a major success.
But: we have to think further ahead. How should Germany and the ZIF fulfill their responsibilities even better in the future?
These responsibilities will not decrease. We rather expect that we will face many more challenges in the time to come. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: how can we strike the right balance between acting effectively as an organization and living up to our responsibilities as an employer? And how do we best distribute this responsibility in a fair way between government, secondment organization, mission and the individual seconded person?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For this reason it is important to look at where the ZIF is heading. Currently, the ZIF is sending some 140 experts in missions around the world. The aim is to increase this number. The demand is there. Just one of many examples: ZIF experts will participate as elections observers in the upcoming election in Turkey.
The European Union is working hard to put a civilian pillar next to its new military cooperation in the framework of the so called Permanent Structured Cooperation, or short: PESCO. I am convinced that ZIF can contribute a lot through its expertise and we are ready to offer this valuable insight to our European partners.
Already the European External Action Service, the African Union and the Arab League have all used ZIF expertise in mediation seminars. I am sure many more will follow.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
before concluding, I have to accomplish a final and less happy task.
Dear Ambassador Mützelburg,
after eight years as a member of the International Advisory Council and almost the same time as its Chairperson, you decided to cease these activities.
Through your commitment, you have made a very valuable contribution to make ZIF an institution recognized and appreciated not only within Germany, but also in Europe and worldwide. In my capacity both as Chairperson of the ZIF Supervisory Board as well as State Minister for Europe I cordially thank you and wish you the very best for your future.
I wish you and all of us now a wonderful dinner. I look forward to working together with you in the coming years. Thank you very much!