Germany to take bigger role in global security

In a big-picture defence paper, it cites threat posed by Russia and other looming dangers

BERLIN • Germany pledged yesterday to assume a greater role in global security, pointing to the strategic threat posed by Russia, and other looming dangers.

In its first big-picture defence paper in a decade, Europe's top economy said it would work with European Union and Nato allies to tackle challenges, from terrorism to climate change and migrant flows.

The paper was released hours before a meeting between Nato and Russia, the first since April and just the second since 2014, when the Ukraine crisis plunged relations into a deep freeze.

In a phone call, Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to use their influence to help prevent any escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

The three leaders also discussed Nato's recent summit in Warsaw, which had weighed the threat the alliance considered Moscow posed, the Kremlin added.

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE

Germany is a globally highly connected country that - due to its economic, political and military weight, but also in view of its own vulnerability - has a responsibility to actively help shape the world order.

GERMANY'S WHITE PAPER, on assuming a greater role in global security.

It said there was consensus about the need for constructive dialogue and steps to foster trust between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

In the so-called White Paper, Germany says it is "a globally highly connected country that - due to its economic, political and military weight, but also in view of its own vulnerability - has a responsibility to actively help shape the world order".

Germany is ready to "help meet current and future security and humanitarian challenges", said the road map approved by Dr Merkel's Cabinet.

The strategic outlook is seen as a milestone for a country that, burdened by guilt about Nazi terror and the Holocaust, for decades stepped softly on the world stage and only joined peacekeeping missions in the 1990s in the Balkans.

More recently, Germany has deployed troops to Afghanistan, Mali and elsewhere, and backed the multinational alliance against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group by arming Kurdish fighters in Iraq and flying surveillance missions over Syria.

Dr Merkel has taken a key role in seeking to defuse the West's conflict with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, but last week also pledged troops to bolster Nato in eastern Europe from next year.

The paper says "Russia is turning away from a close partnership with the West and emphasising strategic rivalry" and, unless it changes course, it "will for the foreseeable future represent a challenge to security on our continent".

Nato spokesman Carmen Romero, speaking before yesterday's meeting with Russia, said: "Allies and Russia will discuss three topics - the crisis in Ukraine, military transparency and the security situation in Afghanistan."

"In the spirit of transparency, we will brief Russia on the important decisions we took in Warsaw last week to enhance our security," Ms Romero said, referring to Nato's announcement to send four battalions of about 4,000 soldiers to Poland and the Baltic states.

Russia has been strongly critical of the Nato decision, accusing the military alliance of aggression and warning that it will react to the deployment of forces in its former Soviet backyard.

But Nato said it was acting purely defensively. "Nato does not pose a threat to Russia. We do not seek confrontation. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia's actions make that possible," Ms Romero said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Germany to take bigger role in global security'. Print Edition | Subscribe