BERLIN/BEIJING | | china

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) - In the prelude to this weekend's new Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's visit to Germany, a prominent German think tank is pleading for closer German-Chinese cooperation. If Germany seeks to continue to have influence in Beijing, it must "put more weight in the balance than it has in the past," warns a recent statement by the Bertelsmann Foundation. Otherwise Berlin risks suffering the same fate as the EU, which China is marginalizing to a growing degree - not least of all, because of the persisting crisis. The EU's institutions have - "as has often been the case in foreign policy - also overestimated their roles with China." The German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) sees the development of European-Chinese relations similarly. According to SWP, Germany has become the focus of China's attention on Europe, while the EU "has been demoted to a 'political dwarf' in the course of the crisis." Foreign policy specialists outside Germany had critically noted last year that there is a disparity between Germany's China policy and that of other EU countries - wherein Berlin has been having growing success in Beijing. "Europe," in comparison, is being marginalized. more…

DAMASCUS/BERLIN | | syrien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - In light of the recent Syrian government's military successes, the German government seeks to stabilize rebel controlled areas in northern Syria. While demands for a comprehensive arms buildup for rebel militias are becoming louder, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs is positioning aid organizations to intervene. Aid organizations, such as the German Agro Action, are - in principle - sworn to neutrality and non-partisanship, however, at the demand of the German government, they are taking up activities in regions under rebel control, aimed at "winning hearts and minds" in favor of the rebels. Because this is in clear violation of Syria's sovereignty, an influential German daily has characterized this mission as "humanitarian intervention without a UN mandate" - "not with tanks and infantry but with trucks and development aid workers." Germany is promoting insurgents also in areas under Islamist control. more…

DAMASCUS/ANKARA/BERLIN | | syrientuerkei

DAMASCUS/ANKARA/BERLIN (Own report) - With the ongoing Syrian military successes, discussion in Berlin and other western capitals is focusing more on a possible breakup of Syria's national territory. Syria has already been dissected into three parts, according to foreign policy experts in Washington: Whereas the Assad government is seeking to consolidate its control over Syria's center and the coastal strip, Sunni and often Islamist-oriented insurgents are in control of large areas in the East and the North of the country. The Kurdish dominated areas to the northeast comprise the third region. The German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) is proposing that Syria's division be approved. Referring to an "expert" on Turkish foreign policy, the SWP estimates that, in the long run, the Kurdish speaking regions of Syria and Iraq could be integrated into a "federalized" Turkey. The 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement's political configuration of the Middle East is, therefore, facing dissolution. A new political configuration would allow the establishment of a "secular Sunni counterweight in opposition to a Shiite arc" (Iran and its allies) in the Middle East. The SWP recommends "making every effort" to support negotiations between Turkey and Kurdish organizations toward this objective. more…

AUGSBURG/MUNICH |

AUGSBURG/MUNICH (Own report) - In the run-up to this weekend's annual "Sudeten German Convention," the Bavarian regional government has announced the introduction of a memorial day in commemoration of German resettlement. Beginning 2014, the second Sunday in September will annually be dedicated to the commemoration of the German victims of "flight, expulsion and deportation" as a result of the Second World War. The designation of this memorial day is one of the German political establishment's measures, to seek to embed the notion that the resettlement was "an injustice" in the mindset of future generations. Based on this - historically erroneous - opinion, Germany can raise advantageous political claims vis à vis Eastern and Southeastern European countries. Besides the creation of a memorial day, Bavaria is also supporting, with 20 million Euros, the establishment of a "Sudeten German Museum" in Munich. The German Bundestag has earmarked another 10 million Euros to the project. An exposition, which could serve as the centerpiece of the museum, put the legitimacy of the founding of Czechoslovakia into question, using controversial quotes from Nazi sources. The Bavarian prime minister will be honored, with a Sudeten German Homeland Association award at Sunday's events for his support of the "expellees." more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) is propagating in favor of the deployment of combat drones. The influential think tank, headquartered in Berlin, has published an opinion poll indicating that more than two-thirds of the German population are in favor of using Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles or UCAVs in warfare. The results of this poll can be found in the current edition of "Internationale Politik," the journal published by the DGAP. The journal extensively treats the subject - with an unambiguous tenor: UCAV development is characterized as an "enormous technological leap" that the German armed forces cannot evade. The authors consider the construction of combat drones, which, based on artificial intelligence can quasi "autonomously" carry out killer functions without human intervention, to be a "logical consequence." The PR campaign, launched by the DGAP, accords with the German government's intention to increase the reliance on UCAVs in future wars. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The EU crisis is causing a serious weakening of the EU's foreign policy, concluded a recent study published by the Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. Not only are the member states' financial outlays for foreign and military activities clearly diminishing, due to leeway shrinkage caused by budget cuts, but "conflicts between member states have grown" around how to handle the crisis, according to the SWP. This has stifled "joint foreign policy initiatives." The think tank points out that the enduring crisis and the hard-line German austerity dictate have damaged the prestige of the EU and, therefore, also severely tarnished its global "soft power." Particularly damaging are the cuts in the military sector, even ranging up to 30 percent reductions in defense spending of the smaller and medium sized EU countries, jeopardizing their long term capability of participation in EU wars. The option of instrumentalizing a common EU foreign and military policy, to reinforce German clout and eventually promote it to world power status, had always been an important motive in Berlin for the buildup and development of the EU. more…

BERLIN/TRIPOLI | | libyen

BERLIN/TRIPOLI (Own report) - In the prelude to an EU "mission" to Libya, German government advisors are insisting on stronger German engagement in that country. The country is socially highly fractured and "instable," according to a recent study published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Many militias are still in tact, with no central command structure, and with some waging fierce battles against others. These conditions are not in Germany's economic and security policy interests. In fact, not only are there anti-western Islamist militias operating on Libyan territory, who have extended their range of activities to Northern Mali and Algeria, constituting a long term threat to western hegemony over the area. The country has, at the same time, resumed being Germany's largest non-European oil supplier, and thereby, taken on a prominent significance in Germany's energy policy. The BASF subsidiary Wintershall, with headquarters in Kassel, produces a major portion of its oil in Libya, and is interested in taking over RWE Dea, also active in Libya. Battles between rival militias caused an interruption of Wintershall's production already last year. more…

NAYPYIDAW/BERLIN |

NAYPYIDAW/BERLIN (Own report) - The German Foreign Ministry is strengthening Berlin's anti-China position in Southeast Asia, through a new training program for employees of several of Myanmar's ministries. If one seeks to "roll back" the influence of the People's Republic of China, Myanmar is "a very interesting partner," affirmed a specialist on Southeast Asia at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. The German government is expanding cooperation with that country accordingly, and in addition to broadening cooperation on political projects, seeks particularly to enhance its economic influence. The EU recently lifted the economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar due also to German pressure. The German Ministry of the Economy is supporting new business deals. Critics' indications that the economic opening of the country serves western enterprises and the local elite in the entourage of its military rulers, have as little effect as the human rights organizations' protests, accusing the government in Naypyidaw of tolerating pogroms against the Muslim minority. They have been demanding - to no avail - that the EU take appropriate measures. more…