Five Questions, Four Agendas Germany's Top Parties Debate Foreign Policy Agenda

Part 7: 'Foreign Policy Must Be More Multilateral, More Economic, More Environmental'


The four parties agree Germany needs to stay in Afghanistan until the job is done. But where do they set their other priorities?

Trittin: On the whole, foreign policy must be more multilateral, more economic, and more environmental. Today, foreign policy is much more than the cultivation of bilateral and multilateral relations and the international networking of states.

Foreign policy must be capable of reacting to those global challenges that can only be met with integrated preemptive measures that are also sustainable. There are more and more areas in our world in which we are dependent on each other. We have shared security needs and need structures that can bring a degree of order to the world, as well as more global justice. These, in fact, are the goals of a Green foreign policy.

For example, it must be a priority that we stem the very real threat that climate change presents to the international community. Competition for resources, the movement of refugees, and weak and failing states threaten to exacerbate conflicts. The economic crisis has been intensified by a lack of international regulation. German foreign policy must therefore develop approaches that bolster a global solution to our problems. This is only viable in close cooperation with our global partners.

We want to construct a shared European foreign and security policy with a European foreign minister at its head. We want a European Union that is active internationally for peace, for a fair and just globalization process, and for the enforcement of human rights.

After 9/11 some Western states imposed certain deleterious double standards, but human rights are both the cornerstone and compass of a credible foreign policy. Our prevention of crises and violence must be forward-looking and anticipatory. Today there is indeed a trend toward more military deployments, even though we do not know how to make troop commitments like those in Afghanistan more successful. It can hardly be a long-term solution to meet global conflicts with military means. What we need are more civilian resources and more international policing. In the world's various conflict zones, we must fortify those forces that seek peace. We must encourage reforms in the security sector and support regional organizations such as the African Union.

Disarmament is another important focus. In his Prague speech, Barack Obama here, too, specified an important objective: a world without nuclear weapons. Germany must play an active role in this area. For instance, I see no reason whatsoever to retain US nuclear weapons on German and European soil. By the lifting of nuclear sanctions on India, which the German government backed, we weakened the system of arms control and disarmament.

Meanwhile more money is being expended for weapons, not least on the part of NATO states. Germany has the world's sixth largest arms budget, and as the world's third largest arms-exporter it profits substantially from the trade. In this area we need to return to a policy of arms limitation and disarmament.

Westerwelle: We Liberals want to see Germany taking a lead again in a consistent policy of disarmament and arms control. Such a policy creates greater security and increased trust. The trend we have seen in recent years -- increasing mistrust and, as a consequence, the danger of a new arms build-up -- needs to be reversed by home-grown initiatives. We consider it an enormous failure on Germany's part to have remained so passive on the subject of disarmament and arms control, although our country enjoys a high degree of credibility in this area. Disarmament and arms control were key elements of rapprochement during the Cold War, and indeed in ending it. Germany has convincingly proved that enduring peace, freedom, and prosperity can be achieved without possessing weapons of mass destruction. This experience can provide a fruitful model. We Germans have no interest in seeing a new arms race on the European continent or in regions on our borders such as the Middle East. Moreover, we increasingly face the danger of terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction or the knowledge and technology required to build them. The greater the arms build-up at a state level, the more this danger increases. We therefore need to take decisive steps in the area of nuclear and conventional disarmament. We thoroughly endorse President Obama's commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. Germany could set an example by working within NATO toward the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons still stationed on our soil.

In relation to our neighbors, it is time we started looking eastward and extending the process of reconciliation and the development of close alliances that has been so successful to the west. I would like to see the same deep friendship between Germans and Poles as has now been established between Germans and the French. Germany and others have paid far too little attention to bilateral relationships within the European Union recently. It is clear that increasing the internal cohesion of the European Union ultimately augments our capacity for action in the international arena. Internal European cohesion is based on the principle of equality of all members of the Union. The formation of alliances and "directorates" within the Union contradicts this principle and is therefore a mistake. German foreign and European policy was so successful in the 80s and 90s because we took the interests of smaller states seriously and considered them when formulating our own policies. We have to find our way back to this kind of approach. It is a scandal that the government's policy toward smaller European countries is so conspicuously marked by derogatory statements from our finance minister.

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