SPIEGEL ONLINE

SPIEGEL ONLINE

09/14/2009 07:14 PM

Five Questions, Four Agendas

Germany's Top Parties Debate Foreign Policy Agenda

Some big issues await the next German government: European integration, Afghanistan, climate change, the economic crisis and the Middle East peace process. IP asked the politicians who may soon be steering German foreign policy to outline their responses to these challenges.

Editor's note: IP Global recently interviewed top foreign policy experts from Germany's top political parties in a discussion about priorities abroad for the country's next government, which will be elected on Sept. 27.

European Integration

In the wake of the decision handed down by Germany's Constitutional Court, what are the prospects for the European project if the role of national parliaments is to be strengthened? Can Germany continue to function as a motor of integration? And is the issue now one of expanding or of deepening the European Union?

Gernot Erler, state minister in Germany's Foreign Ministry with the center-left Social Democrats: In my opinion, strengthening national parliaments is not a barrier to Europe's development. Instead, it helps strengthen the European Union's political legitimacy. The Federal Government has never circumvented parliament in its pursuit of European policy. On the contrary, it has always been able to count on a cross-party understanding of the necessity of European integration. The Federal Constitutional Court has made it clear that our current constitutional order provides a framework for European unification. National governments have been assigned the task of contributing to the success of the process of European unification from within this framework. At a time when we need increasing international cooperation to respond to global problems (climate change, financial crisis, pandemics and so on) we need a European Union capable of effective action. EU expansion and consolidation are not mutually exclusive, and this will remain so in future.

Eckart von Klaeden, foreign-policy expert spokesperson for the conservative Christian Democratic Union's parliamentary group: The current financial and economic crisis as well as the fight against international terrorism, organized crime, and, in particular, climate change, clearly show the limits of any one nation to solve problems on its own. As far as Germany is concerned, the European Union is the main framework within which to address challenges that cannot be efficiently met in a national framework, if they can be met at all.

This is why European integration, like transatlantic relations, is still one of the main pillars of German foreign policy. The remaining ratifications of the Lisbon Treaty, which are expected to take place in the fall of this year, and the treaty's subsequent entry into law will considerably strengthen the problem-solving capacity of the European Union. The Federal Constitutional Court's ruling does not alter that fact. Germany, together with France and its other partners, must advance the consolidation of the European Union, whose membership has now grown to 27, while at the same time remaining open to new members.

Jürgen Trittin, the Greens' leading candidate in the 2009 election and former federal environment minister from 1998-2005: The verdict was a defeat for Euro-critical populists like Herr Gauweiler of the CSU and the Left Party, who oppose the European project. The Federal Constitutional Court said yes to the Lisbon Treaty and called for the increased influence of the national parliament. But the Bundestag must finally take on more responsibility in the process of European integration. The Lisbon Treaty now requires a new collateral law that strengthens the rights of the Bundestag and Bundesrat and enables the legislators to fully represent their citizens, even on EU matters. This does not mean a discontinuation of the European project -- on the contrary.

There are two matters at stake with the treaty. First, with the reform of institutions and the decision-making processes, the community of states can become more capable of action -- particularly in terms of foreign policy. Second, we need the treaty to prevent an inner paralysis of the community through the process of expansion.

But those, like the Christian Democrats, who claim to see a populist anti-Turkey policy in the treaty do it a disservice. We support the accession talks with Croatia and Turkey as well as accession prospects for the West Balkan countries. Of course, all EU criteria need to be met before the admission -- of Turkey, Croatia, Iceland, and all future candidates. Then the door will be opened.

Guido Westerwelle is head of the Free Democratic Party and is the FDP's leading candidate in this year's election: Expanding and deepening the European Union are not contradictory objectives. However, the most pressing issue at the moment is to ensure that the European Union is able to continue fulfilling its vital function. The Lisbon Treaty is a milestone in this respect and an important prerequisite for the success of all subsequent steps towards integration.

The German Constitutional Court's ruling on Lisbon emphasizes that in transferring sovereign rights, a particular responsibility for integration falls to the legislature. The Lisbon Treaty provides for the transfer of sovereign rights by nation states to the Union, in many cases without requiring formal ratification. The court's ruling makes it very clear that this is not possible without the parliament's agreement. The necessary democratic legitimation needs to come from the citizens, not governments.

At the same time, it is vital that Germany retains its capacity to act at an international and a European level. The Constitutional Court has also taken this into account by emphasizing the compatibility of European law and the German constitution. Germany's role as a motor of integration is not called into question by this ruling. Germany is part of a federation of states whose historical success is based on a capacity for compromise and the renunciation of national unilateralism. Equally important is the fact that only those with a degree of flexibility can hope to exert a significant influence on policy at the EU level.

The Transatlantic Relationship

The Transatlantic Relationship

Junior partner or equal partner? What has Europe got to offer the United States -- and can it deliver?

Erler: Europe and the United States need each other to effectively meet new global challenges. The growth in the relative importance of a number of newly industrialized countries has not changed this. By way of illustration, transatlantic economic relations generate revenue of around four trillion US dollars and are responsible for over 14 million jobs, primarily in the high-wage sector. The volume of transatlantic direct investments is significantly higher than that, flowing from both sides, into the newly industrialized countries, including China. Since 2000, US direct investment in Germany has been approximately three times higher than investment in China. We need more, not less transatlantic cooperation. The European Union's ability to promote stability, Europe's pioneering role in the field of environmental policy, as well as European proposals for improved supervision of the capital markets, are just a few examples of the important role Europe plays in the search for global solutions.

von Klaeden: The basis of shared values, the depth of exchange between our societies, and our high levels of economic interdependence and political consultation make the United States the most important non-European ally of Germany and Europe. Through its commitment to NATO and the associated security guarantees, the United States has made a vital contribution to the consolidation of peace and stability in Europe since the end of World War II. The United States is still an indispensable superpower and will remain so for a long time to come, despite the emergence of new powers. We Europeans must play a greater part in helping shape a better world order. Such efforts must include the development of policy options that match our interests, responsibilities and potential as well as incorporate the rational, judicious, and sustainable use of political, developmental, economic and -- as a last resort -- military instruments. Europe can and must continue to display self-assurance in its transatlantic relations, not as a counterweight to the United States, but as a partner. The aim is to establish as much common ground as possible within a partnership. In a transatlantic relationship built on mutual trust, differences of opinion can still occur, but they must be addressed in a spirit of friendship and with the desire to find common solutions.

Transatlantic partnership is important to both sides for the entirely pragmatic reason that the partners' strengths complement each other. The only chance to effectively address key global challenges is through joint action by Europeans and Americans.

Trittin: Neither European Commission President Manuel Barroso nor Chancellor Merkel are the equal of Barack Obama. Obama is taking large strides to grapple with a variety of problems -- the financial and economic crisis, climate change, disarmament, a new relationship with the Muslim world, withdrawal from Iraq, new strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the closing of Guantanamo, mediation of the Middle East conflict. The tasks and projects are enormous. Added to all this is his ambitious economic and domestic policy agenda. In contrast to Obama, Barroso and Merkel appear to be sleepwalking through this time of crisis.

But I believe that Barack Obama knows what Europeans are able to contribute. In contrast to George W. Bush, Obama favors engagement, multilateralism and more diplomacy. And for such approaches Europeans are important partners, whether it be in dealing with Russia, fostering understanding with emerging nations, solving the financial and economic crisis, nuclear disarmament, searching for a solution to the conflict over Iran's nuclear program, or stabilizing Afghanistan. This also means that the European Union has to take on greater responsibility. In Afghanistan, for example, we promised to take on the enormous task of training Afghan police forces -- and then did not deliver. In failing like this we threaten the success of the whole international effort in Afghanistan.

As to the matter of a junior partner, with 490 million citizens the European Union is the world's most important economic region, ahead of the United States. The United States relies on the European Union for climate protection, renewable energy, and trade policy. The EU must assume a leadership role and not shy away from its duty. The climate conference in Copenhagen at the end of this year is a perfect example of Europe dodging responsibility.

On the other hand, the world no longer spins on the axis of the "transatlantic relationship." The international importance of states such as China, India, and Brazil has increased enormously. The United States and the European Union must together attempt to create a more representative international system that gives these countries greater responsibility.

Europe has much to offer -- but only if Europeans can agree to assume responsibility. And unfortunately this has not always been the case. The famous telephone number that Henry Kissinger desired is still not in place, even if Obama might prefer an e-mail address.

Westerwelle: For many people the United States has always represented freedom, prosperity, and justice. For this reason many Germans looked to it during the difficult era of the Cold War and afterward -- including Germans on the other side of the Iron Curtain, where the US always exerted an enormous appeal. Over the last eight years this image has been fractured by the many external and internal policy mistakes of the previous US administration. By electing Barack Obama as their president, Americans have emphatically illustrated their capacity for political change. It is important to bear in mind that what distinguishes Obama from his predecessor is more the means than the ends -- dialogue rather than isolation, integration rather than containment, cooperation rather than unilateralism, the power of law rather than the law of the powerful.

A glance at the international political issues we are facing -- Afghanistan, Iran, proliferation, free trade instead of protectionism, climate change, HIV/AIDS, and many others -- makes it clear that there are no two regions in the world that share more values and interests with one another than Europe and the United States. Experience has shown that neither partner can solve these problems alone. For this reason it is in all our interests that the nations of the West stand together when facing the challenges of the 21st century. We want and need a close alliance with United States.

The role of Germany and Europe in relation to the United States has unarguably undergone a fundamental change over the last twenty years. As a "frontline state" in the Cold War, Germany's role in US foreign policy was very different from today. My party regards the current German government's failure to seize the opportunity to influence American foreign-policy reorientation in the wake of the presidential election as an enormous failure of judgment. The German government wasted its chance to present its own ideas and proposals and thus to influence the reorientation of US geostrategy. One reason was that the enthusiasm for Barack Obama in Germany was nowhere less evident than in the German government.

Germany in Afghanistan

Germany in Afghanistan

Exit strategy or commitment to engagement?

Erler: Both. Withdrawal is written into our military engagement. An exit is possible once we have reached our goal, an Afghan state that is capable of providing for both its internal and external security. Our troops will certainly not remain in Afghanistan beyond this point. However, one thing must be made clear. Until this has been achieved, we will stick to our commitments. This is not just in response to our moral obligations to the men and women of Afghanistan, who have placed their hopes in us. Our interests also demand it. An Afghanistan, once again, in the hands of fundamentalist extremists, would pose too great a threat to regional stability and our own security.

von Klaeden: The devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, were planned in Afghanistan. Since then, the risk of terrorism emanating from that country has been curbed to a great extent. Stabilizing Afghanistan, however, remains one of the priorities of international security policy if we are to ensure that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe haven for globally active terrorists. We must not repeat the mistakes of the 1990s when international indifference to Afghanistan did a great deal to encourage the rise of the Taliban. We, therefore, are happy that President Obama has made Afghanistan one of the priorities of his foreign policy and that he is involving Pakistan in his strategy. Without close cooperation with Pakistan it is impossible to deny the Taliban access to the region bordering Afghanistan, which the Taliban uses as a safe haven. As long as the Taliban can find sanctuary, no lasting peace can be brought to Afghanistan. Pakistan, moreover, needs our help to deal with terrorist threats within its own borders. It is extremely gratifying that the new Afghanistan strategy adopted by the current US administration has further reinforced the European concept of a comprehensive approach. In other words, the new strategy has placed greater emphasis on the civil reconstruction effort and better coordination of civil and military measures. The goal is still to enable the Afghan government to assume responsibility for its country's security, stability, and development. Germany, which has taken responsibility for the north of Afghanistan, will remain committed to this goal. We must not yield to the growing pressure from the Taliban and leave the Afghan people in the cold by withdrawing our forces prematurely.

Trittin: These two notions by no means exclude one another. No one wants international troops and the Bundeswehr to stay in Afghanistan forever -- neither the Afghans nor those countries providing troops. At the same time, no responsible individual can seriously contemplate an immediate military withdrawal. Those who would propagate a swift withdrawal are either naive or happy to accept the logical consequences, namely an end to civil reconstruction work and a return to civil war that would end with a Taliban victory.

But we must think seriously about the concrete goals as well as realistic and verifiable timetables. German citizens are concerned that their country is gradually becoming caught in a military gridlock. This concern must be taken seriously -- and it must be allayed. The "war discussion" is a sign that Germans are no longer going to be fobbed off by their government's whitewashing of the situation.

In view of the increasingly difficult situation in Afghanistan, we cannot plead for perseverance at home while engaging halfheartedly on the ground. That is what we accuse Chancellor Merkel and her government of doing. Solely sending more soldiers is not enough. She does not tell us how long the Bundeswehr will be engaged; but then she balks when it comes to doubling reconstruction aid and fulfilling Germany's promise to assist in building up the Afghan police force, a job which requires 500 German police officers.

I have the impression that Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Jung enjoy awarding medals for bravery and having the soldiers take oaths of allegiance with the symbolic Reichstag backdrop. Instead of praising a compulsory military service that is no longer justifiable from a national security standpoint, our head of government should take care that those soldiers who have been sent overseas, in particular to Afghanistan, are able to fulfill their mission quickly and safely.

Strategically, the United States under President Obama has embarked on a genuine change of course. His strategy in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan entails less military action that threatens civilian lives and more regional diplomacy as well as more civilian aid. The European Union must contribute to the success of these efforts. That means more civilian aid, more training, and more state-building efforts -- for a military "victory" per se will never be achieved in Afghanistan. Our chancellor needs to start a police and civilian reconstruction offensive and recruit the other EU and NATO states along with our partners in the international community to join these efforts.

Instead of an exit strategy or an avowal of engagement, what we need is the clear commitment to a primarily civilian mission in Afghanistan with military protection and a medium-term exit strategy.

Westerwelle: We want to end every German military deployment as quickly as is realistically possible. However, it is important not to create the impression that "exit strategy" and "commitment to engagement" are somehow alternatives that lead to the same goal. Withdrawing from Afghanistan now would mean again abandoning the country to radical Islamists who first terrorize their own people and then extend their terrorism to the world at large. The images of public executions and the destruction of religious sites by the Taliban remain in my mind as clearly as the images of 9/11. These things cannot be allowed to happen again. At the same time it is very clear that outside actors cannot guarantee that such acts of terror will not occur. Consequently, we need to ensure as quickly as possible that the Afghans are able to provide security within their own country so that development in other areas can move forward. Then we will have reached the point where we can start a staged withdrawal of the international military presence. In the case of police training, the German government has been far too slow in meeting its own, self-imposed obligations. A precipitous withdrawal will only result in Kabul once again becoming the capital of world terrorism. Our engagement in Afghanistan is not based on altruism. We are there to protect our own security interests.

How To Deal With 'Problem' States

How To Deal With 'Problem' States

For example, how can Iran be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons? And what is Plan B: How should we deal with a nuclear-armed Iran? Lastly, how can Germany and Europe contribute to a peaceful solution in the Middle East?

Erler: We continue to pursue a two-track approach in respect to Iran. First there is the negotiation offer that we initially made with France and Great Britain as the EU-3, and later with Russia, China and the United States as the EU-3+3. A revised version of this offer stills remains on the table. However, Iran should be aware: If the state leadership rejects a diplomatic solution then we are prepared to support harsher sanctions. On the situation in the Middle East: The conflicts in the entire region cannot be considered in isolation. They are often closely linked. As Europeans, we have a great interest in stability and security in this neighboring region. Consequently, in addition to solutions to the individual conflicts and crises, a comprehensive, regional strategy is required.

Minister Steinmeier has actively pursued the development of such a regional dimension within the framework of the European Union, which will need to be closely discussed with the US and partners in the region. The federal government maintains its position that without a two state solution, there can be no chance for lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

von Klaeden: In dealing with the Iranian nuclear program, the international community must not break ranks. The objective is still to obtain guarantees from Iran that its nuclear program will serve exclusively peaceful purposes and to make every effort to ensure that these guarantees can be obtained by diplomatic means. Unfortunately, the strategy pursued by the UN Security Council and the EU-3+ 3 has not prevented Iran from continuing with uranium enrichment. There is no alternative to the double-track strategy of sanctions and offers of cooperation. So far, Tehran has only vaguely responded to President Obama's offers to talk. We hope that the cracks in the Iranian power structure, which have become apparent in the wake of the manipulated elections and the subsequent protests, will, in the medium term, create new options for better relations with Iran.

The fact that the president of the United States put the Middle East conflict on his personal agenda from the start of his term is a welcome sign. We hope that the offers for dialogue and cooperation he offered in his Cairo speech have been well received in the region. The recognition and defense of Israel's right to exist must remain a cornerstone of German foreign policy. The Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has repeatedly made clear that Germany gives great importance to renewing the momentum in the Middle East peace process with the aim of achieving a two-state solution. Germany and Europe will naturally do all they can to support this process.

Trittin: I am honored that you should wish to learn the master plan from yours truly. How can one solve all the problems in the Middle East region -- in ten words or less? But it is indeed the case that these problems are all closely related and must therefore be treated as a whole. I also believe, incidentally, that President Obama recognizes this.

As for Iran, up until now, "Plan A" has proven unsuccessful -- that is, the attempt to prevent any upgrade of Iran's civilian nuclear program for military use. But it is my view that with his strategy of dialogue Obama has exerted more pressure on the Iranian leadership than George W. Bush with all his sanctions and saber-rattling. By extending his hand in peace in his message on the Iranian New Year and in his address in Cairo, Obama has unsettled the Iranian leadership. This naturally makes it difficult for someone like the "Supreme Leader" Ali Khameini to assert that the "Great Satan" is solely responsible for poor Iranian-American relations. In the June elections of this year, Ahmadinejad's opponents insisted that the country open toward the United States.

Since the election and its dubious results, the Iranian leadership has been nervous and has experienced an internal fissure while peaceful protests have brutally been beaten down by state authorities. It is of utmost importance that we show solidarity with these protesters. In any upcoming nuclear negotiations, the human rights situation cannot simply be swept under the rug. On the other hand, it remains the case that without direct dialogue with Iranian leadership -- discussion which includes the security concerns of Iran and its neighbors -- there will be no progress. There are more than enough proposals for compromise -- for example the head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei, has proposed a "freeze-for-freeze," a simultaneous suspension of sanctions to match a halt of Iran's nuclear development.

Without negotiations there can be no solution. Any war perpetrated as a result of Iran's progressing nuclear program would be a wildfire catastrophe that could plunge the entire region into chaos. Yet doubts about the success of any such negotiations with Ahmadinejad are not unwarranted, especially in view of Iran's swift progress on uranium enrichment. Estimates say the country could make military use of uranium in the next one or two years.

The result of all this is that the US will have to increasingly consider implementing "Plan B" -- how to deal with an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons. But for Israel there is no Plan B. It refuses to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran because it sees this as a threat to its existence. This was recently made clear to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates by his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak. Therein lies a great danger. Iran, in possession of nuclear weaponry, would trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. So it's better to stick to Plan A.

Moreover, I believe that Barack Obama is correct in attempting to solve the Middle East conflict as a stepping-stone on the path to dealing with Iran, a country that supports Hamas and Hezbollah. Additionally, Germany and Europe must assume responsibility in the Middle East conflict. With our participation in UNIFIL, we already have a presence in the region. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the European Union should not only be a "payer" but a "player." With the present right-wing government in Israel and the political divide in Palestine, chances of reconciliation between the parties seem slim. Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, is therefore right in proposing that the international community should draft a compromise solution and then implement it in a step-by-step fashion together with the parties to the conflict. And in any such solution both Germany and the EU must play a consonant role.

Westerwelle: The dispute with the Iranian government over its nuclear program is one key aspect of the Iran situation. The other key aspect is the series of demonstrations in the wake of Iran's presidential election. It is extraordinary to see so many, above all young people, in Iran engaging in the struggle for the rule of law and democracy. In Iran we are seeing a generation of extremely well-educated and Western-oriented people take a stand. They see the opportunities the world has to offer them obstructed by the current regime and its policies. These are people who want to take advantage of globalization's possibilities. They rightfully regard enemy stereotypes, conflicts, and self-isolation as restricting their freedom to structure their lives as they wish. Repressive measures cannot easily cap the spirit with which these people are struggling for a better future.

Finding a solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program is proving so difficult for the parties involved in part because their relationship with one another is so complex. One of the keys to finding a solution lies without doubt in the relationship between Iran and the United States. In his Cairo speech, President Obama confirmed a change in policy and took an initial, courageous step. In expressing his admiration for Iranian culture and offering direct negotiations, he unambiguously differentiated his approach from his predecessor's policies of containment and escalation. Obama has proved his capacity for de-escalation without at the same time appearing naïve. This approach is correct because it prevents the hard-liners in Teheran from being able to present the West as a provocateur, which is exactly what are they are trying to do in the face of the internal political pressures they face. Another obvious key element that can contribute to the diffusion of the nuclear dispute is the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), that is, a consistent policy of disarmament and arms control. Two fundamental elements of the NPT are the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and the guaranteed right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The more seriously the existing nuclear powers take their obligation to help create a world free of nuclear weapons, the greater credence they will have in the eyes of states like Iran, who find the prospect of possessing a nuclear arsenal extremely tempting. As regards the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, we need creative approaches that can balance the energy needs of one country with the legitimate security interests of all the others. The idea of a multilateral organization of the nuclear fuel cycle is an approach that may be helpful. And, as is the case of all questions regarding disarmament and arms control, the issue of how such schemes are to be monitored is, of course, crucial.

Regarding the Middle East conflict, the FDP has long been proposing a regional approach modeled on the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) process. Experience has shown that it makes little sense to approach the different conflicts in the region separately because they are simply too interconnected. We therefore need to try to integrate all relevant parties into a framework of negotiation that avoids the kind of highly charged situations that repeatedly develop between different stakeholders. My own party's view is that ensuring Israel can exist in peace and within secure borders is a goal that Germany will always remain obligated to, but that this cannot be separated from the need for an independent, viable Palestinian state.

Germany is in a position to contribute to the resolution the Middle East conflict because we not only enjoy a close friendship with Israel but also have a good reputation in large parts of the Arab world. Furthermore, the fact that we have convincingly overcome the obstacles created by the Cold War proves our ability to diffuse and ultimately overcome even the most entrenched political antagonism. We now need to apply our experience and skills to the resolution of the Middle-East conflict.

At the same time, it would be a great over-estimation to imagine that Germany and Europe alone might somehow be able to find a solution that has eluded the region for decades. The United States, Russia, and the United Nations all need to play a major role if a viable and peaceful solution to the problems of the Middle East is to be found. It is also for this reason that I wholeheartedly support President Obama's early and intensive engagement with the Middle East and the fact that he has urged all parties to provide clear signals of their readiness to embrace peace and compromise.

New World Orders

New World Orders

There are a range of catch phrases: "effective multilateralism" or "networked security," reform of the UN, WTO and IMF, the expansion of the G-8 to the G-20. How should German foreign policy handle the rise of emerging powers?

Erler: In order to effectively meet the new challenges -- such as climate change, raw material crises, and water shortages -- we need a globally responsible partnership. For this reason, Germany has been lobbying for the reform of international institutions for some time. They must adequately reflect the world of today, granting the newly industrialized nations the place they deserve. At the same time, emerging states must be integrated into a functioning multilateral system and be called upon to assume global responsibility.

von Klaeden: The economic and financial crisis has clearly shown that the large nations of Europe and North America, together with Japan -- the G-8 in other words -- are increasingly unable to shoulder the entire burden of today's global challenges on their own. It is no coincidence that the countries involved in the Heiligendamm process -- namely the G-8 plus China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa -- and the G-20 have come to play a more prominent role in the past year. This reflects a shift in the balance of power from the North Atlantic toward the South, and especially toward Asia. Thanks to its economic and political upsurge, China in particular has become a major stakeholder in the international marketplace and a leading player on the international political stage. Its influence, along with that of other countries such as India, is growing, not only economically but also in the fields of political diplomacy, cultural influence and military strategy. This upsurge lends increasing importance to German and European relations with China as well as with Brazil, Russia and India. It is also in our interest to engage these countries more fully in the work of existing international organizations and structures, which need to be reformed accordingly. As the influence of these countries grows, however, so does their share of responsibility for political and economic stability of their respective regions and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Against the backdrop of numerous failed and failing states, of which the economic and financial crisis is likely to create more, even greater importance should be attached to development cooperation as a key component of foreign and security policy.

Trittin: "Networked security" is Defense Minister Jung's favorite term. But it's only a smokescreen. He has never been able to satisfactorily explain what lies behind it. The government's 2006 White Book on security policy has already shown that the federal government's inter-agency collaboration does not work. Nor has the government done anything to speed along construction of a civilian infrastructure, like building up the Afghan police force.

I personally prefer the term "effective multilateralism" -- and it is more becoming. The term means to create a global order in a rapidly changing world -- a global order that is banking on greater inclusiveness and participation. The growing political importance of nations like Brazil, India, and China presents a challenge for the international order, and German foreign policy must help to adapt it. In the face of so many global problems -- climate change, the economic crisis, the food crisis, disintegrating states -- global responses are absolutely necessary. Effective multilateralism means making the United Nations capable of acting, namely through reform of the UN Security Council and other organs. We must find a way to improve the structure of our entire system of international governance, which means reform of the World Bank, of the International Monetary Fund, of the World Trade Organization. And we need to strengthen international law and binding norms.

Effective multilateralism also means expanding the outmoded G-8. The meetings of the G-20 within the framework of the economic crisis are a step in the right direction; after all, these industrial and emerging nations make up 62 percent of the world's population and 77 percent of the world's gross national product; 90 percent of world trade takes place between these states.

Germany and the European Union must make a concrete contribution -- and also, where necessary, they must make concessions; for instance in the area of climate protection, where many countries claim their right to develop and will only support climate programs if the European Union and the United States set a proactive example; or in the sphere of world trade, where the European Union must dispense with agricultural subsidies that destroy the markets in developing countries and have become the symbol of an unfair world trade policy.

Germany has traditionally made important multilateral contributions. These days it participates in several international peace missions under the umbrella of the United Nations. Germany is the UN's third leading donor and finances almost ten percent of the organization's budget. Above and beyond that we have also helped to establish the International Criminal Court and a new UN Human Rights Council.

In the current international upheaval, intensified through the economic crisis, Germany can reconnect with its multilateral tradition and assume a great deal more responsibility in configuring the international community; but instead, the present German government has boycotted a UN conference for the first time since it joined the UN in 1973 -- the Anti-Racism Conference in Geneva. As a result, Germany was neither able to influence the conference's concluding resolution nor was it able to demonstrate opposition to Ahmadinejad. That was a mistake. We have to be engaged, including when it comes to critiquing the UN system and pushing necessary reforms.

Westerwelle: Emerging nations like India, China, and Brazil have long ceased to be developing countries, and are now playing a decisive role in world politics. And their influence on world affairs will only increase in the future. The role such countries play in global security, energy, climate change, health care, and food production is now central to any policy addressing these fields. In effect this constitutes an enormous challenge for the West because we must cooperate more closely with states that do not necessarily share our values and in fact may actually violate them. On the one hand, we therefore have a strong interest in strengthening the United Nations and thus the rule of law in international relations. On the other hand, we need to call on emerging nations to assume a greater degree of responsibility in return for greater influence on international policy.

With regard to Afghanistan, for instance, China, Russia, and India are three large states that have just as little interest in seeing the return of the Taliban regime as we do in the West. However, the contributions of these countries to the stabilization of Afghanistan are comparatively modest at present. In my opinion, more engagement beyond the mere level of military involvement is needed and is also possible. On another level, the same could be said in relation to North Korea and even Iran.

Moreover, I do not believe we need to be reticent when it comes to asserting values such as universal human rights when confronted with their violation by emerging powers. In our opinion, the principle of non-interference ceases to apply when universal human rights are being systematically violated.

The G-20 and the Doha Development Round illustrate the workings of a globalized world based on participation and cooperation. The reconciliation of interests functions best in multilateral organizations.

Priorities for German Foreign Policy

Priorities for German Foreign Policy

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

Erler: At present, the focus is to overcome the financial and economic crisis. Internationally we need to agree on and implement a set of long-term, sustainable solutions. At the same time, the danger of a worldwide relapse into protectionism must be averted. Beyond the present crisis, Germany has a preeminent interest in improved global cooperation-for example in the areas of climate protection or disarmament. President Obama's election has created more opportunities for progress, which need to be utilized. The best means of protecting our interests in today's globalized world is through a strong European Union. This calls for the speedy ratification of the Lisbon treaty.

von Klaeden: Besides the aforementioned priorities -- European integration, transatlantic relations, and the security challenges posed by Afghanistan, Iran, and the Middle East -- German foreign policy should focus on the following priorities: the ongoing development of security policy -- including a comprehensive approach, better domestic coordination of security policy, NATO's new Strategic Concept and non-proliferation -- an active European neighborhood policy, stable relations with Russia, protection of the climate, and security of energy supply.

NATO remains the central instrument of our transatlantic security and defense policy. Besides the continuing key commitment to collective defense, its tasks now range from robust stabilization operations both in Europe and its periphery and far beyond the bounds of Alliance territory, to humanitarian missions in disaster areas. At NATO's diamond-anniversary summit in Kehl and Strasbourg, the Alliance resolved to revise its ten-year-old Strategic Concept. This provides an opportunity to modernize NATO. The future strategic blueprint must reflect recent changes in the security situation that have occurred, as well as focus on the unfinished transformation of NATO. It must begin with a comprehensive analysis of the new threats and security challenges, many of which can no longer be confined to specific areas like missile defense, cyberdefense, and energy security.

A strategic blueprint must also consider non-military aspects, such as environmental, economic, social, and cultural factors. Its overarching aim is to reach a new consensus on risks, threats, and determine the tasks and operating range of the Alliance. To this end, the guarantee enshrined in Article 5 must apply to all members. Furthermore, NATO must also remain open to new members. Their accession must be governed by the Alliance's eligibility criteria and represent a net security gain for the Alliance. It is equally important to develop relations with partner countries and organizations, particularly in Asia, that send their own troops to take part in missions such as ISAF in Afghanistan.

There is also an urgent need for improved relations between NATO and the European Union. In view of the increasing number of tasks facing NATO and the common European Security and Defense Policy, the available civil and military capabilities must be developed and used more efficiently. Germany's security policy must be better coordinated, which could be achieved, for example, by further developing the Federal Security Council.

The new initiatives on arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that President Obama announced in his Prague speech are most welcome. They create a new opportunity to drastically reduce the number of nuclear weapons and limit conventional forces.

We hope for the rapid completion of the current US-Russian negotiations on a legally binding successor agreement to START I, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which will expire in December 2009. This is partly because it will strengthen the non-proliferation regime and prevent a further increase in the number of nuclear powers. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the basis of international non-proliferation policy and is thus the key to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. In view of the growing risk of proliferation, as illustrated by Iran and North Korea, reinforcement of the non-proliferation regime is essential.

If the proliferation of fissile material, nuclear technology, and nuclear know-how is to be avoided, countries intending to use nuclear power for energy production must be shown a way to do so that minimizes the risk of proliferation.

Export controls, designed to check the transfer of items used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology and the export of dual-use products, are also an indispensable means of curbing proliferation. It is, therefore, very heartening to note that South Korea has recently acceded to the Proliferation Security Initiative, which aims to prevent proliferation and combat nuclear terrorism. This is all the more important in view of the fact that the greatest danger of proliferation currently emanates from North Korea, which recently conducted another nuclear test and several missile tests.

On a separate matter, Russia is part of Europe and is the European Union's most important neighbor. Sadly, hopes for the steady development of democracy in Russia have not been fulfilled. The fact that the rule of law is not paramount is one of the reasons why Russia lacks the economic and social dynamism of other European countries. Russian foreign policy has unmistakably neo-imperialist traits.

Germany has traditionally enjoyed good relations with Russia. These, however, must not operate to the detriment of third parties, as has occasionally happened in the past. At the same time, we want the closest possible relations with Russia. The depth and breadth of these relations depend primarily on whether and to what extent Russia is prepared to meet its international commitments. Mutual dependence, especially in the realms of energy and raw materials on the one hand, and technological know-how on the other, present many opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. The CDU and CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag supports the joint negotiations that are underway and the cooperation agreement between the European Union and Russia because such an agreement will place this cooperation on solid ground.

We must not forget, however, that at the beginning of this year the Russian government allowed the gas dispute with Ukraine to escalate to such a level that even EU countries had to endure supply interruptions. These experiences, along with Russia's conduct in the war with Georgia, have made clear that a strategic partnership between Europe and Russia is still far from reality.

With its open economy closely intertwined with the world market, Germany's prosperity depends, in part, on the stability of the international financial system and open global markets, as the current global economic and financial crisis is clearly demonstrating. The past few months have shown that we must adapt the global financial architecture to meet the needs of a globalized economy and act vigorously to nip any incipient protectionist trends in the bud. As a country with a strongly export-driven economy, we also have a keen interest in safe maritime trade routes. It is therefore only right that the German navy take part in the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Germany's security is also highly dependent on the free-est possible access to energy and other raw materials. The federal chancellor has made security of energy and raw-material supply one of the priorities of her term. The gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine at the start of this year was a significant reminder of the risks associated with a high degree of dependence on energy imports.

Another issue that is closely linked with energy security is climate change. The European Union has decided to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020. In this respect, we welcome President Obama's pursuit of a new energy policy and commitment to the fight against climate change. We must work together on this issue, especially with a view of persuading newly industrialized countries with high emissions, such as China and India, to make appropriate reductions. The aim of limiting the increase in average global temperatures to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century must be made binding by international law.

Germany is a cosmopolitan society and should remain so. Just as Germany and Europe play an indispensable role in global economic, political, and environmental affairs, our cultural ties with the rest of the world also need to be developed. This is why the CDU and CSU advocate Germany's foreign cultural and education policy.

'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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