Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to the German Bundestag on the continued participation of German armed forces in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

14.06.2023 - Speech

Today we, the Federal Government, have adopted our country’s first ever National Security Strategy.

In this Strategy we clearly state that peace and security sadly cannot be taken for granted. We need to work for them and we will work for them – for our security, and for the security of others, because our security depends on the solidarity of others and because the security of others depends on our solidarity.

That is why Germany, a rich and strong country, has a special responsibility to do its part to support the international order, to strengthen international law and the United Nations.

Our partners rely on us to ensure that it is not the law of the strongest that prevails – neither here in Europe nor in Europe’s neighbourhood, nor in any part of the world.

This is precisely what this mandate we’re discussing here today is about: our contribution to UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Since 2006, German soldiers have as part of UNIFIL been helping to uphold the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

The importance of this mission was sadly brought home to us just a few weeks ago, when, in early April, rockets and drones were fired on Israel from the Hezbollah-controlled areas in southern Lebanon – attacks that we all condemned in the strongest possible terms.

It is not least thanks to UNIFIL that this flare‑up did not spark a fresh chain of violence. This is because the only direct line of communication between Israel and Lebanon runs through UNIFIL. This channel once more played a crucial role in the de‑escalation in April.

This was all the more vital at a time when Lebanon is falling ever deeper into a political and economic crisis that threatens to further destabilise the country.

The economic collapse has plunged hundreds of thousands of men, women and children into poverty. Hezbollah’s influence is growing. And the Lebanese military remains unable to monitor Lebanon’s entire territory and the border with Israel.

It is not in our interest to sit back and watch. We can do something to help – although admittedly our contribution can only be small. We want to make the most of this – and we do.

Thanks to training received from UNIFIL, the Lebanese Navy has been able to resume its monitoring of two sections of coastline on the Israeli border, and the third and final section is due to follow later this year.

This shows that where the situation is difficult, the contributions made by German soldiers on UN missions do make a difference. Of course, as I said, we cannot make everything better. But whether we are there or not does make a difference. My thanks therefore go to all the soldiers there for the important work they are doing.

Such progress is possible because our partners in the country appreciate UNIFIL’s work. And that is exactly what we have learned from our missions in crisis zones, where we as the Federal Government have said yes. We constantly reflect on our missions, in the light of what happens in the real world, not in the light of theoretical considerations. I’m emphasising this particularly with regard to our participation in MINUSMA in Mali, because that was the first time we came to a different conclusion about one of our overseas missions.

To make sure that our missions can be successful, we must look very closely at whether our partners in‑country are reliable, and remain reliable, so that cooperation can continue, and at whether we can realistically contribute to change.

In our view, these conditions are met in the case of UNIFIL: the Lebanese Government supports the mission, and – which is equally important – the Israeli Government continues to state that the mission is beneficial to Israel’s security.

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed colleagues,

Peace and security sadly cannot be taken for granted. We need to work for them in Europe and on other continents, in our neighbourhood, and in the United Nations.

This is precisely what we are doing in UNIFIL – reliably and responsibly.

With this in mind, I urge you to approve this mandate.

Thank you very much.


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