Sectoral Dialogue

BERLIN (Own report) – The German government is firmly committed to promoting the German arms industry. According to a “strategy paper” recently adopted by the cabinet, the government is planning to “increase investments” in the development of “defense-related technologies.” It also wants to step up “political support” for German arms companies’ business activities, which – if necessary – could be extended to “third countries” non-members of the EU or NATO, and could explicitly include the export of combat hardware. Bilateral agreements should also be concluded with “partner countries” to enhance the “opportunities for German companies” in “large-scale foreign [arms] procurement projects,” according to the paper. These measures comply with the demands of German arms manufacturers, who, for quite some time, have been in “dialogue” with government representatives. One of the results of the “dialogue,” announced by Vice-Chancellor and Minister for the Economy Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) is the government’s support of defense contractors “to obtain access to the evolving markets of civilian security technologies” as well as, in their “cooperation efforts with developing and threshold countries.”

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Not Only Against Russia

BERLIN (Own report) – Bundeswehr circles are calling for German military activities to be extended in the Indian Ocean. According to an analysis by three political scientists at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, the ocean linking Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia is the most important sea for global trade. It will replace the Atlantic, to become the most important “Ocean of the 21st Century.” Germany, therefore, must become more active – militarily as well, beginning, for example, with joint maneuvers with the bordering countries. Until now, Germany only has a permanent presence in Djibouti, in the western Indian Ocean, which is seen as insufficient. This plea for opening a parallel theater of conflict alongside the power struggle with Russia, dovetails with existing German activities, for example, the reinforced arms buildup of the East and Southeast Asian rivals of the People’s Republic of China. As has now been confirmed in the new Arms Exports Report, published in the middle of this week, Germany’s arms export policies have already begun to focus on East and Southeast Asia. Four countries from these regions are among the top ten customers of German military hardware, but only two NATO member countries.

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Berlin’s new activism

Germany is taking advantage of its robust economic health to firm up its presence on the international stage. However, trade is the engine of a diplomacy that still fears embracing military interventions, a stance which remains popular with the German public.

Another illustration of the German approach: relations with the United States, which extend well beyond the merely economic. Germany’s anchorage in NATO is one of the pillars of German diplomacy. In recent months Berlin has managed use its privileged ties with Washington to rekindle in dramatic fashion the negotiation of a Free Trade Treaty between the European Union and the United States. Visiting Berlin on February 1, American Vice-President Joe Biden gave the green light from the new Obama administration to the initiative. And so, to promote German industry, Angela Merkel has not hesitated to bypass the European Commission, which is responsible for the negotiation, and to start a new dispute with France, which is much more cautious about a free-trade agreement. Nor has Merkel hesitated to turn her back on multilateralism, the cornerstone of German diplomacy. Continue reading