Germany's Foreign and Security Policy in the Face of Global Challenges
Germany's Foreign and Security Policy in the Face of Global Challenges
Speech delivered by Dr. Angela Merkel,
Member of the German Bundestag (Chairwoman of CDU), Chancellor of the
Federal Republic of Germany; at the 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy.
Munich, (Bavaria), February 4, 2006.
2006 Munich Conference on Security Policy.
Dr. Angela Merkel during her speech -
Photo by Sebastian Zwez
Excellencies, Ministers, Members of Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr Teltschik, for your kind welcome and for reminding us of what was said last
year. I was happy to accept your invitation to deliver this opening speech today,
as over the years the Munich Security Conference has rightly become a trademark
- one for frank and honest dialogue on shared foreign and security-policy
challenges, as well as a dialogue which takes place not only in this room but
also in the many, many conversations conducted on the fringes of this Conference.
These are equally important.
This year you have given the Security Conference the motto of "Restoring the
Transatlantic Partnership". If we look back in time once again, the Cold War
came to an end because, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, freedom won in
the whole of Europe and in other parts of the world. All this was and still is
accompanied by a gain in both economic and freedom terms which we call
globalization. Today we have a hitherto-unknown interconnection of investment,
capital, communications and information streams. This means we have completely
new, qualitatively new opportunities, but of course also dramatic fears, if I
think of Germany, which in many instances is having great difficulties coming to
terms with this openness.
The symmetric threats of the Cold War have become a completely new kind of
asymmetric threat. The erosion of state structures, terrorism, weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of unreliable regimes - these are just a few key words
we use to describe the challenges and threats we face in our age. The world as a
whole has become more transparent. Almost no-one any more can ignore conflicts
elsewhere. This is a situation which we must face up to.
The question now is how do we - and I am asking this for Germany - reply to
these new challenges? I am convinced that we can only address them together, and
I use this term primarily with a view to the transatlantic partnership. Why
should we, some may ask, now that the Cold War is over? There was no automatic
need for it. In my opinion it is because we are united by a shared set of
fundamental values, a common understanding of freedom with responsibility, and a
shared view of humankind and human dignity. I believe that due to these
fundamental values we can assume that the transatlantic partnership will
continue to be the basis enabling us to face the challenges of the 21st century.
For us in Germany the process of European integration on the one hand and the
transatlantic partnership on the other hand form the pillars of our foreign and
security policy. Let me clearly state that in this regard united Germany is
prepared to take on responsibility, indeed greater responsibility, beyond NATO's
boundaries, in the cause of safeguarding freedom, democracy, stability and peace
in the world.
I would like to use four conditions to illustrate what is needed for this:
First, Germany must develop in a proper way economically, as in my view our
economic strength and our security-policy leeway are linked. Second, we must
play our role in ensuring that NATO can face and adapt to the changed overall
conditions. Third, we need a stronger Europe, a stronger European Union. Fourth,
we must pool our activities regarding a joint international-order policy. I feel
that only if we are successful in all four areas can we meet the challenges
facing us today.
Allow me, using these four points, to sketch out what contributions we must make.
I want to start with a domestic-policy idea: We, the new German Government,
pledged to return Germany within the next ten years to the EU's leading group in
terms of growth, jobs and innovation. I think this is important because it is
not only the precondition for prosperity within our country, but also for our
being able to use that domestic political strength to assume foreign-policy
responsibility. A country whose citizens are insecure will find it hard to
assume international responsibility.
For that reason we must reduce bureaucracy, reform the labour market, but above
all we must invest in research and development and address the demographic
challenge, in other words, we must make our social systems fit for the future.
With this in mind we must - and I am speaking quite frankly - address a budget
situation in which we will regularly, for the next decades, spend more than we
receive in income, and this in the light of a demographic situation which will
not ease the problem in the future.
This means that, while we can and intend to assume responsibility, in some
fields we may not be able to meet everyone's expectations regarding our
financial scope for defence spending. What I always reply is that we may not be
able to do everything, but what we do, we do very efficiently. We play our role
in Afghanistan with 2,500 soldiers in the ISAF mission. We play our part in
Kosovo as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina with around 3,500 soldiers. We are
present on the Horn of Africa, in Sudan and in the southern Caucasus, to name
only a few major regions. Now Germany participates in the mission in Rafah,
which is a totally new experience, as this is a commitment to a wholly new
region. We provide the largest contingent to the NATO Response Force. We are
implementing the decisions taken at the Prague NATO Summit in a highly committed
way in the field of strategic airlift. In other words we are making our
contributions in many respects, helping many people.
We have a parliamentary army. Extending its operations to cover almost the
entire world is a clear political challenge, one which requires a great deal of
discussion, but we - government and opposition - have again and again jointly
brought the majority of these discussions to a positive conclusion. Of course we
also want to use the synergies within the European Union, and in this connection
there is greater European cooperation, for example allowing us to increase the
share of deployable troops, to name just one aspect among many.
Dr. Angela Merkel, Federal -
Photo by Sebastian Zwez
that NATO remains the bond keeping together the transatlantic community of
shared interests and values. But if it is to retain that function, say, in ten
or twenty years' time, we must in my opinion discuss quite openly what NATO has
to do. In my view it must be a body which constantly carries out and discusses
joint threat analyses. It must be the place where political consultations take
place on new conflicts arising around the world, and it should in my opinion be
the place where political and military actions are coordinated.
we have to take a decision: Do we want to give NATO a kind of primacy in
transatlantic cooperation, meaning an attempt first being made by NATO to
carry out the necessary political consultations and decide on the required
measures - which doesn't mean everyone participating in everything all the
time - , or do we want to relegate NATO to a secondary task? This is a
decision which has to be taken. In my view we should decide that NATO has that
primacy, and that other courses should not be explored until the Alliance
fails to arrive at an agreement. If this is, so to speak, the shared opinion
of all concerned - which is something we must discuss - then the NATO Council
can of course take over these tasks, and it may become clear from day-to-day
political consultations that this is practicable.
means political conflicts being discussed for which no immediate military
operations or actions are required. In other words, I feel that the situations
in the Middle East or Iran must be discussed at NATO. For this we need the
political will, and to be able to take action we then of course need the right
military capabilities. I am giving away no secrets, I'm sure, if I say that at
the moment these are not always available. Over the next few years we will have
to decide whether or not the political will is forthcoming. I expressly advocate
this. I also know that we Europeans must then naturally take care that the
technological gap between us and the USA doesn't get wider but rather narrows
where possible. But I am also aware that this is an extraordinarily difficult
issue to talk about, if one looks at the real situation.
It is clear that the main litmus test for NATO's ability to act and its
credibility remains the success of its operations. There is no doubt about it.
Here we can say that the spectrum of Alliance operations has become huge over
the last few years - ranging from military operations to peace-supporting
measures, training, transport and advisory measures and indeed now operations
following natural disasters and the protection of major sporting events, such as
the coming football World Cup in Germany, to which I of course warmly invite you
all. Unfortunately, I have no tickets to give away! But we do have a lot of
video-walls on our streets, and you are warmly invited to be there, in Germany,
when it is "A Time to Make Friends", as the World Cup motto states.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we look at the breadth of NATO's spectrum of activities,
the sheer variety is, I think, impressive. Precisely this leads us of course to
ask: Where are the limits of what the Alliance can do? Resources are scarce. I
think the Secretary General can recite monologues on this subject. Therefore we
must more clearly define its tasks. This was done at the 1999 Washington Summit,
where the Strategic Concept was elaborated, and continued in Prague in 2002 with
the establishment of the NATO Response Force. I feel that the theoretically
correct steps have been taken and that the practical implementation is in many
respects progressing well. If I think of the NRF, at least the German
contribution is pleasing.
But we must also realize that the world has changed again considerably since
1999. For that reason I propose that we discuss whether we want to look again in
2008 or 2009 - ten years after the last Strategic Concept - at how we should
develop it further; remember, 1999 was before 11 September 2001, before the
major round of enlargement. We do want other countries to join NATO. This means
that countries like Croatia, Macedonia and Albania can be justly hopeful about
becoming Alliance members. But that leads to new challenges, and this is why I
would propose such a discussion for 2008.
We know that Ukraine and Georgia also want the prospect of NATO membership. Let
me state here that there can be no automatic accession, but that it is
definitely necessary to look at the efforts made by the potential candidates and
the extent to which those efforts harmonize with the values on which the
Alliance is based. The yardstick must be that it is not just a question of
enlargement but naturally of the maintenance of quality.
I want to
say to our American friends that they should not view European integration
sceptically, but rather see it as an opportunity. I feel that the European
Union, the more it acts with one voice, can make NATO more efficient. Over the
last few years we - with considerable contributions by Germany and France - have
given the EU a Security Strategy. We are in the process of creating a common
European armaments industry. Since 2003 there have been independent European
operations, some NATO-supported, some based on the EU's own structure. If I only
look at, for example, the ALTHEA mission in Bosnia, I can say that if we look
back to the early 1990s and see where we are today, at the start of the 21st
century, then Europe and the EU have grown into a role in which we are truly
prepared to assume independent political responsibility, including the military
security aspect. I think we Europeans can be justly proud of finally being able
to help maintain peace and security on our own continent. Of course, we do this
with the support of our American partners, while being more and more convinced
that this is our task.
Particularly if you look at the Balkans you can see how vital the European
perspective, in other words the prospect of EU membership, is for allowing us to
decrease our military presence there. I believe that we will not be able to lead
the countries of the Western Balkans into a peaceful future without giving them
that European perspective. Of course this must be a gradual process, but the
perspective must be there.
We will conduct further missions under the auspices of the European Union. We
are currently discussing how far we are able to respond to the United Nations'
request for assistance with the elections in the Congo. I would like to take
this opportunity to explicitly state that we as Europeans have a keen interest
in seeing a successful conclusion to the United Nations' stabilization efforts
in this country. But I must also say that a few years ago the idea of holding a
discussion of this nature in the German Bundestag would have been beyond the
scope of our imagination, and even now it is still uncharted territory.
Of course, we still have a long way to go. We had planned to appoint a Union
Minister for Foreign Affairs with the entry into force of the Constitutional
Treaty. The Treaty's prospects have been scuppered by referenda in some
countries whose populations did not vote in favour of this project. We can do a
certain amount to improve the efficiency of European foreign policy without the
Constitutional Treaty, but in the medium term we will have to establish new
institutional conditions within the European Union. I have not abandoned the
hope that this could take place within the framework of a Constitutional Treaty.
Ladies and gentlemen, the significance of the partnership between the European
Union and NATO is growing. The European Security Strategy, NATO's Strategic
Concept and the National Security Strategy of the United States of America
provide a suitable foundation on which to conduct more intensive dialogue on the
form our common security agenda should take. We only need to go through them
once to see that they correspond to a remarkable degree. I don't now intend to
start philosophizing on the differences between the words "preemptive" and "preventive",
but it is fascinating to see that things are moving in the same direction.
The EU and NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs met for the first time last year
for an informal exchange of views within a small group. I believe these talks
should also continue. But if they do - and I am returning to my position on the
role NATO should play - they should complement the political discussions within
NATO. They should not be perceived as a counterweight but as a supplement.
it would be fair to say that NATO and the EU are the most successful
value-based and security alliances in recent history. They could therefore
also become an anchor of stability in the world, if indeed they are not
already. The European Security Strategy states, "Acting together, the European
Union and the United States can be a formidable force for good in the world.
powerful alliances it goes without saying that we also need security partners in
other regions of the world. The NATO Secretary-General made this point yesterday
or the day before. We cannot do everything. We would be overstretching ourselves
if we acted as if we could. It is therefore crucial that NATO establishes a
dense network of partnerships with countries and international organizations
with very varied priorities and objectives. It is precisely this
diversification, the breadth of the conflicts and areas of cooperation that is
the hallmark of the 21st century. The Cold War was, as it were, a clash between
relatively homogeneous blocs. Today we have to face very different conflicts.
This also calls for the ability to adapt very swiftly to the conflicts concerned.
In this context I believe that the regional organizations particularly should in
future assume greater responsibility for security. I am thinking of the African
Union, for example. NATO should help such organizations to develop their own
skills and capabilities and put them in a position to help themselves. In other
words, I believe this could be an additional task for NATO.
be more active in the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation
Initiative. We must intensify our cooperation and consultation with partner
countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan. This means that a wealth
of political activities are therefore necessary, which could eventually lead
to military cooperation.
like to re-emphasize the large number of flashpoints we have to deal with by
citing four examples. To begin with I want to talk about Afghanistan. I consider
Afghanistan to be a fascinating example of how we can manage to gradually build
up stable political structures out of the central threat of the 21st century -
the threat of terrorism, and out of the situation of an almost impotent state.
For me, the interaction of operations such as Enduring Freedom, which have a
clearly military character, with operations such as ISAF, which are designed to
foster stability and range from military tasks, through policing, to work to
establish political structures, and which also encompass the activities of
non-governmental organizations, development aid and reconstruction efforts, is
exemplary. Such operations span the entire process of moving basically from a
totally unstable structure to a politically stable country. This must be our
Incidentally, this corresponds to the expectations of our people at home, who
naturally ask, "What are you doing there?" They want to see progress. They want
to see that something is happening. I think we have a great responsibility to
account for our actions. For this reason it is vital that we are involved across
the entire spectrum.
I believe that the conferences in Bonn and Berlin, which have now been extended
with the Afghanistan Conference in London, demonstrate that we consider the
continuation of the political process as important as the military operations in
this region. Many will use the example of Afghanistan to decide whether we are
able to take effective action. I do not intend to sweep the problems under the
carpet, but I am convinced that we can succeed.
Second. The results of the parliamentary elections in the Palestinian
Territories and the victory of Hamas is an outcome we have to respect.
Nevertheless, they give us cause for concern. I therefore wish to reiterate what
I said during my visit to the region and which could affect the financial
assistance the Palestinian Authority receives. Israel's right to exist must be
recognized. It must be clear that violence is not an acceptable form of
political expression and the Palestinian Authority must recognize the steps
taken so far in the peace process. Anything else would be an incredible setback.
I believe that the European Union and others have made this clear and I am very
glad that this is the case. I maintain that we have to state this in no
The commitment to stability is, of course, also a priority with regard to Iraq.
We are supporting the creation of democratic and economically viable structures.
We will continue to train soldiers and police officers in close cooperation with
the new Iraqi Government. We intend to assist the Iraqi authorities in building
up the justice system, in establishing a free press, in training university
tutors and engineers and especially in developing vocational training. We are
providing considerable financial support for Iraq by cancelling debts to the
tune of 4.5 billion euro. I believe that this, too, is essential if the process
there is to continue.
Fourth, we must of course pay close attention to the developments in Iran these
days. We want to prevent the production of Iranian nuclear weapons, and we must.
Iran's nuclear programme prompts the justified suspicion, the justified concern,
the justified fear that its goal is not the peaceful utilization of nuclear
energy, but that military considerations are also in play. Iran has wilfully - I
am afraid I have to say this - and knowingly overstepped the mark. I must add
that we are, of course, compelled to respond to the totally unacceptable
provocations of the Iranian President. I am particularly called to say this in
my role as Chancellor of Germany. A president who questions Israel's right to
exist, a president who denies the Holocaust cannot expect Germany to show any
tolerance at all on this issue. We have learned the lessons of our past.
We want to find a solution to this conflict. Many offers have been made. The
negotiations within the Board of Governors are still under way. I would like to
add that the referral to the UN Security Council is not intended to provoke
Iran, for in my view the UN Security Council ought to be the legitimate place to
discuss conflicts with international ramifications. I can therefore only say
that it would be good if we were able to resolve this issue quickly. Many offers
have been made, but they all depend on a willingness on the one hand to dispense
with the rhetorical activities and on the other hand to accept the terms of
negotiation on offer.
I believe that the degree to which we can build far-reaching partnerships beyond
the EU and the United States will be very important in connection with Iran. I
see Russia as a major factor here. Russia's role in this Iran conflict will
certainly be of prime importance. It could also undoubtedly influence the
position other countries take on this issue - I say this with great caution. The
strategic partnership between Germany and Russia will therefore also have to
prove itself in the resolution of the conflicts with Iran. I am hopeful and
optimistic that this will succeed, although I am sure we still have a few
difficult discussions ahead of us.
The stance on the issue of Iran adopted by countries which are gaining in
prominence - I will cite China, India and Brazil as three examples of many -
will also be a deciding factor. The broader the consensus among the
international community on what is and what is not acceptable, the deeper this
will impress upon Iran.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have many other regions to take into consideration. I
do not intend to list them all - Belarus, the southern Caucasus and Central Asia
are three. We must give thought to how we can handle all these conflicts and
implement solutions within global structures and institutions.
rapid responses, and I am therefore of the opinion that the reform of the
United Nations is of special importance. The United Nations is currently too
slow in its response capability, and this therefore requires more than mere
structural changes. It concerns the capability to act of a global institution
to which Germany and I myself attach considerable importance. At the United
Nations Summit in September 2005 some progress was made. Certain steps were
taken - I am thinking of the Peacebuilding Commission, for example. But the
reform of the Security Council is dragging its feet. This will be a crucial
factor in whether the United Nations can be transformed into a more capable
personally also believe that the tools of conflict prevention and crisis
management have to be made more effective. This requires an international legal
basis. In my view international law must be developed within the context of the
United Nations - at least, that would be the optimal solution - to ensure the
existence of a legitimate, widely supported foundation on which to base our
responses to the entirely new challenges of the 21st century. Germany intends to
do what it can to achieve this.
Ladies and gentlemen, Germany knows what it has to do. Germany feels a strong
allegiance to the European Union and intends to do its part to foster
integration within the European Union, and Germany believes in the transatlantic
partnership. We know our strengths, but we also know our limits. A country with
80 million inhabitants will not be able to overcome the challenges of
globalization single-handedly, neither in seizing economic cooperation
opportunities - here we need institutions such as the WTO and many others - nor
in guaranteeing our own security. We are therefore convinced from the point of
view of our own deepest interests that we need alliances such as NATO, and that
we need the transatlantic partnership. In my experience this self-interest is in
politics always the best motivation for high-level cooperation.
I want to state explicitly that the positive message I heard during my trip to
the United States was that here, too, there is a deep awareness that the United
States of America needs the Europeans. We were not always sure whether that was
the case. But in the mutual recognition that none of us can master the
challenges of the 21st century alone, I believe that we need to strengthen the
transatlantic partnership and that we can also influence the strengthening
process. Germany, for its part, will do what it can to this end.
Thank you very much!
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