"Working together to make a better world"
At the beginning of her speech at the 53rd Munich Security Conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated: "The world has changed dramatically. We have no fixed international order." In addition to asymmetric threats like Islamist terrorism, she said, it is also necessary to cope with new conflicts emerging through civil wars, for example, or climate change.
German G20 Presidency: "Shaping an Interconnected World"
In view of the existing situation, the German head of government made an urgent plea for multilateral solutions in international politics: "Only together can we overcome the threats." Consequently, it is necessary to strengthen structures like the EU, NATO and the United Nations, as well as to improve cooperation, said Merkel.
The Chancellor referred to the G20 as a successful and "good example of our capacity for multilateral action." Germany, which took over the G20 chair on 1 December 2016 and will lead it for a year, chose for its presidency the motto "Shaping an Interconnected World". The guiding idea is the "conviction that joint action strengthens everyone."
Expanding commitment to defence
The Chancellor went on to say that Germany remains committed to the goal NATO countries agreed upon in Wales in 2014 to fund defence by at least 2 per cent of GDP by 2024 at the latest. "We will make every effort, we believe we have an obligation to work toward this goal. Germany knows its responsibility."
However, Merkel also said that expenditures for development cooperation and crisis prevention must also be factored in. Germany could not raise its defence budget to more than 8 per cent per year.
Chancellor Merkel holds numerous talks
During the Munich Security Conference, the Chancellor held a number of bilateral talks with leading politicians from around the world. The first was on Friday, a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. A dialogue ensued with UN Secretary-General António Guterres later in the evening. A breakfast meeting took place on Saturday with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Binali Yildirim. After her speech at the Security Conference, Merkel met with Almazbek Atambayev, the President of Kyrgyzstan. Following this was a talk with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. In the afternoon and before her departure, the Chancellor also met with Haider Al-Abadi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, as well as with Fayiz as-Sarradsch, the Prime Minister of Libya.
NATO also in the American interest
In her speech, the German government head also touched upon NATO and transatlantic relations.
She affirmed her conviction that the western defence alliance is "also in the American interest." Particularly in the struggle against international terrorism, joint action is more important than ever. "We need the military power of the United States," emphasised the Chancellor.
However, Merkel also reiterated that in the struggle against terrorism, it was of great importance to her "that we include Muslim states." It must be made clear that Islam is not the cause of terrorism, but a misguided Islam.
Chancellor calls on Islam to demarcate itself from terrorism
Chancellor Merkel said she expects Islamic religious authorities to speak "clear language on demarcation" from terrorism. She added that western politicians could not separate peaceful Islam from unpeaceful Islam as well as the Islamic clerics could.
Chancellor meets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence
On the margins of the Security Conference, Angela Merkel also met with U.S. Vice President Pence. The focus of their meeting was on close and friendly bilateral relations of the two countries and on important joint foreign policy challenges. Topics discussed included the Syria conflict, the situation in Libya, the mission in Afghanistan, as well as efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Prosperity for all as a "demand for European action"
The Chancellor called the EU "our home." After the Brexit referendum, she said, the EU has been going through a very difficult phase and there is much not to be satisfied with. The common market, she added, must "prove its value, and that means: jobs, competitiveness, success for people." Prosperity for all, like the prosperity the social market economy had brought to Germany, is also a "demand for European action," Merkel made clear.
Promoting a better relationship to Russia
Even after the annexation of Crimea and separatist activities in eastern Ukraine, Merkel said she would "not stop promoting a good relationship between ourselves and Russia." She added that she continues to stand by the NATO-Russia Founding Act and is thankful to NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg for his efforts at NATO-Russia meetings.
Merkel clearly emphasised that the principle of territorial integrity must be upheld. If not, the entire European security architecture could topple over, she said. In the last 25 years, she added, a stable and lasting good relationship to Russia has unfortunately not been achieved. Yet Russia is both an external border and neighbour of the EU. In the fight against international terrorism, at least, Russia and the EU have "exactly the same interests," underlined Merkel.
Thanks to the UN for crisis prevention commitment
Angela Merkel expressly thanked UN Secretary-General António Guterres for his participation in the Security Conference. She said it is "good that the UN Secretary-General is here", for the Portuguese politician has placed crisis prevention at the very top of the future UN agenda.
The Chancellor added that this gives the international community an opportunity to push forward important projects, such as global health and improvement of educational options, particularly for girls and women. Moreover, support for the African continent must not be left out in this connection and is a main focus of the German G20 Presidency, said Merkel.