Muscles are being flexed

BERLIN/NEW YORK |

BERLIN/NEW YORK (Own report) - The new German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is announcing a full application of Berlin foreign policy in the European Union over the next few weeks and is asking the EU finance authorities for disencumbering decisions. What arises from Steinmeier's inaugural speech is the fact that Berlin needs funds for the construction of its global hegemonic policy, which is to be subsidised by the discarding of German EU obligations to other parties. The new boss from the outside office explains that further resources for the civil flanking of violent German operations ("cultural policy") has to be prepared like that, while ongoing demanding military disbursements ("continuity" in the "security policy") take place. The offensive which is being heralded by Steinmeier also applies to the German demand for power in the United Nations. Berlin is holding on tightly to its objective of its own seat in the UN security council, in spite of this year's fiasco, in which Steinmeier, who was chancellorship minister up to now, was also very much involved. Acting against the advice of authoritative CDU politicians, the social democrats' UN aspirations brought them to enter into the coalition agreement. The government party's declarations show that the SPD's and CDU's interplay is accumulatively having an effect on German foreign policy's onset of great power. German-foreign-policy.com has published extracts.

Army in action

Steinmeier moved into the outside office on Tuesday. According to what he says, "Europe has to prove its ability for action" in financial politics.[1] The foreign minister ties the new government party's coalition agreement in with that. In this agreement, it says that people are asking for a "quick completion of negotiations" on the Brussels financial plan as well as a "recovery of taxes" in the German national budget.[2] The German savings are presumably financed by new net expenditure from other EU states; among others, Great Britain counts as one of these candidates. The intended cutback in Berlin's financial payments to the European Union makes it easier to pay for the continuing high costs of the deployment of the German Armed Forces on three continents. "The German Armed Forces are an army in action", is how the coalition agreement summarises this constant financial need in a few words. As part of this, there is also a plan to forcefully dismantle the EU's military capacity.

Soldiers, policemen, development workers

The coalition agreement is also planning to increase the military presence in foreign states by bringing about an intensive integration of all German activities abroad. The parties that are now emerging collectively are calling for the "civil-military" cooperation to be reduced and for "teamwork with non-governmental organisations, churches, foundations and the economy to be further developed". Even the medium-sized German businesses are marking out a supportive role which complies with return services. The companies are being "strongly supported by the opening up of foreign markets", and foreign economies and development teamwork is being "geared in a better way". "We are very grateful to our soldiers, policemen, diplomats, development workers and assembly workers - we really appreciate them" - that is what it says in the government document about the activists who are either deliberately or unsuspectingly being used by Berlin foreign policy.

Germany's voice

The coalition is attaching great importance to both the cultural policy in the outside office and to foundations that are closely related to the party. The "instruments" that exert cultural influences are to make the German entrance part of a strong network: "The German Wave (German state broadcasting service, d. Red.), acting as Germany's voice, and the foreign school system must be strengthened." On top of that, it is said that a "chosen task" is drawing on the foundations that are closely related to the party. The federal president, Horst Koehler, only recently emphasised the importance of the organisations that are financed by three figure million sums.[3] The foundations' work abroad is "essentially conducive to gaining insights into foreign countries", Koehler said, on acknowledging their tasks as informers for several authorities; in view of the influential work in the forefront of Berlin foreign policy, the head of state confirmed to the organisations that they would succeed very well in "imparting (...) insights" outside the German borders.[4] The former federal president, Herzog, called the foundations that are closely related to the party "the most effective instruments in German foreign policy" [5] - the new German foreign minister ties in with this allegation.

Dressed up

Steinmeier promises more than just continuity in German UN-policy. Here, his predecessor, together with the SPD-chancellor, provided for aggressive profiling in New York, and, on doing this, experienced the congenial support of the German UN-ambassador Pleuger - to the horror of well-meaning observers.[6] In spite of early warnings from the USA and China, Berlin insisted on demanding to be on an equal footing to the winners of the second world war, and forged a battle alliance with the world war aggressor, Japan. Steinmeier was also involved in this futile approach. He knows what resistance exists in the outside commission of the German parliament, as he used to be chancellorship minister. CDU-politicians advised moderation there, recommended action together with the USA and appealed the idea that Berlin could avoid international provisos by using a European disguise: as the EU states' "trustee" in the world security council.[7] Both approaches are now bringing the CDU and SPD together and are relying on political synergy effects. In the existing coalition agreement, it says that Germany remains "ready" to take over responsibility in the UN security council and "aims expectantly (...) for a permanent seat for the EU". Keeping the national demand for power disguised has worked, as has making it palatable in different contexts - sometimes socially democratic and aggressive, and other times, filtered in a conservative fashion.

Action

UN-ambassador Pleuger, who will be removed during the next political turnaround, is flexing his muscles once more. When he was asked about the resistance against the advancement in the world security council, this is what Steinmeier's man said a few days ago in New York: "We will not sit the problem out. Actions are necessary and actions will be taken!"[8]

Read extracts from the coalition agreement.

[1] Rede von Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier anlässlich der Amtsübernahme als Bundesaußenminister am 23. November 2005 in Berlin
[2] Der Koalitionsvertrag zwischen CDU, CSU, SPD
[3] Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung/CDU, Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung/CSU, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung/SPD, Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung/FDP, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
[4] Grußwort von Bundespräsident Horst Köhler zum Festakt "50 Jahre Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung", 05.11.2005
[5] see also "The Most Effective Instruments of German Foreign Policy"
[6] see also Achtung, Deutschland!, Im Felde unbesiegt, Abgang and Chinesisches Veto
[7] Gerhardt: Ständiger Sitz im UNO-Sicherheitsrat bleibt das Ziel; dradio.de 28.06.2005
[8] U.N. Envoys See Loss of Steam for Expanding Security Council; The New York Times 18.11.2005