Germany needs friends and allies in Europe and around the world

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Government statement by Federal Chancellor Scholz Germany needs friends and allies in Europe and around the world

"There can be no freedom and no prosperity without security," said Federal Chancellor Scholz in his government statement in the Bundestag on Thursday adding that "our entire country is called upon to ensure security". The Federal Chancellor is in no doubt that: "Germany has the strength to do this". 

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Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaking in the Bundestag.

The most important task of every state, said Federal Chancellor Scholz in his government statement, was to ensure the security of its citizens. 

Photo: Federal Government/Schacht

"The most important responsibility of any state, of any society," said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz in his government statement ahead of the European Council on Thursday, "is to ensure the security of its citizens because there can be no freedom and no prosperity without security".

The Federal Chancellor once again assured Ukraine of the Federal Government's full support "with all our strength and above all for as long as necessary". Moreover, he said, "we are taking on a much more active role in protecting the territory of our alliance and our friends in NATO" and "laying the foundations for a Europe that is capable of acting on a geopolitical level". Olaf Scholz stressed the fact that the Federal Government will do "whatever is necessary to ensure our country's security against any threat".

"You can rely on Germany"

The Federal Government set out these priorities in the National Security Strategy last week, the first in the history of the Federal Republic. Our National Security Strategy, he said, "will show our European and international friends and allies that you can rely on Germany". Germany will be assuming greater responsibility for security in Europe and will act in a coordinated manner at the European and international level.

Strengthening Europe's role in NATO

"Our European defence efforts" said the Federal Chancellor, must be pooled, and we must provide the "European defence industry with a long-term perspective and expedite its production". He added that this was the only way for us to strengthen Europe's role in NATO. Germany's decision to procure the Arrow 3 and IRIS-T air defence systems demonstrates to its partners that "first, we are committed to European collaboration for key projects to ensure the security of Europe, and second, we are adamant that Europe should fulfil its responsibilities within NATO".

"We stand firmly shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine"

The European Council will again be addressing the Russian offensive against Ukraine, as the Federal Chancellor stressed, whereby it remained the case that "we stand firmly shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine". Since the start of the war, German military and civilian aid amounts to 16.8 billion euros. "This makes us Ukraine's second largest supporter after the USA," Scholz said. The bulk of Germany's arms deliveries have been armoured combat vehicles and the necessary ammunition. "We are therefore providing exactly what Ukraine needs most in its ongoing offensive to liberate its territories." 

"National defence is alliance defence and vice versa."

In terms of Germany's role as a partner in the NATO alliance, it holds true that "national defence is alliance defence and vice versa," a point that is also underscored in the National Security Strategy. For example, the plan is to strengthen the Federal Armed Forces, take action to ensure Germany's long-term military capability, and expand the technological basis for security and defence in Europe.

"At the same time," the Federal Chancellor continued, "we will ensure that the Federal Armed Forces finally receive the equipment they need by drawing upon the special fund to make effective purchases, but also, starting next year, by spending two per cent of our GDP on defence for the first time in decades". This will ensure that "we shall live up to our promise of mutual assistance in NATO – no ifs or buts".

NATO Summit in Vilnius

Federal Chancellor Scholz is convinced that the upcoming NATO Summit will "send a strong signal of transatlantic cooperation and determination to stand together to ensure our security". The NATO Summit will also address the future relationship with Ukraine. It is not possible for Ukraine to accede to NATO while it is at war with Russia, which is why the Federal Chancellor advocates boosting Ukraine's actual fighting capacity.

Germany needs friends and allies in Europe and around the world

Federal Chancellor Scholz explained that the National Security Strategy was not only a reaction to a completely changed security situation in Europe, but also to a changed geopolitical landscape: "The world of the 21st century is being shaped by the emergence of a number of diverse power centres including in various parts of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, in addition to the USA, Europe, and China. Our objective is to ensure that Europe remains one of these power centres, with Germany as a strong, cosmopolitan, and democratic country at its core. To achieve this, Germany needs friends and allies in Europe and around the world."

This, he continued, was why Germany was developing new partnerships and strengthening existing ones. The amicable relationship between Germany and France represents a key partnership. "President Macron and I," said Scholz, "share a common goal of creating a geopolitical Europe. Our cooperation with the United States and President Biden is also closer and more trusting than ever before." Germany and the USA will continue to collaborate in their support for Ukraine and ensure that the war does not escalate into a confrontation between Russia and NATO. 

Countering imperialist ambitions and action

Together with our allies in Europe and in the G7, Scholz said, we would ensure that the Euro-Atlantic area remained an area of peace, freedom, and stability. At the same time, he continued, "we must counteract any renaissance of imperialist ambitions and actions around the world".

The Federal Government has also intensified its dialogue with countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The "G20 Compact with Africa" summit will take place in Berlin in November, and the European Union Member States will meet with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time in eight years in mid-July.

The EU and Germany's relationship with China will also be discussed at the European Council meeting. At the G7 Summit in May, the G7 countries agreed on a common approach to dealing with China: "On the one hand," Scholz explained, "we have stated that we want a constructive relationship with China, and that none of us wants to hinder China's economic development". However, China was also asked in no uncertain terms to abide by international rules.

Economic security and resilience

Another important topic in the EU and Germany’s discussions with and about China, Scholz said, was the avoidance of a one-sided economic dependence on China. The G7 countries have also adopted a common approach to this. "Rather than decoupling from China," the Federal Chancellor explained, "our goal is smart diversification paired with targeted de-risking." To this end, he continued, the Federal Government was helping companies to broaden their supply relationships and to negotiate new trade agreements.

Among the topics to be discussed at next week's European Council meeting will be economic security and boosting Europe's competitiveness. The heads of state and government will be discussing the "European Economic Security Strategy" concept, which the European Commission presented on 20 June. The strategy is aimed at reducing risks to the European economy in critical areas and making European companies more resilient. Scholz stressed the fact that "rather than less trade, and less dialogue, the goal is more trade and even broader relationships".

A common migration policy

The EU Member States, Scholz said, were capable of overcoming their differences even on the most controversial of issues, as evidenced by the agreement reached by the European interior ministers on a reform of the European asylum system, which Scholz regards as a "historic agreement" which was "in the interest of European unity and ability to take action". The previous system, he said, was "dysfunctional" and would be replaced by an agreement that "combines responsibility at the external border with mutual solidarity. Our goal is to make quicker assessments of who is entitled to protection as a war refugee or politically persecuted person and who is not. Even for the new arrivals, this is better than years of uncertainty."

Federal Chancellor Scholz went on to say that "the burden on Germany will also be lightened by such a new and fair system, because we have been the main destination for largely uncontrolled internal migration within the Schengen area up to now. Member States that do not participate in this solidarity-based refugee hosting scheme must make a financial contribution to migration management instead. After all, this is only fair because all Member States benefit from secure external borders and open borders within the Union. But in the long run, you can't have one without the other." At the European Council meeting next week, Scholz said he would be advocating for the compromise reached as well as for an agreement between the Member States and the European Parliament prior to the European elections in June 2024, to ensure that the common asylum system reform could enter into force. In addition, he said, he would be pushing for an expansion of legal immigration into the European labour market, "just as we are doing here in Germany through our migration partnerships and skilled labour immigration law".

"Germany has the strength to do this"

Federal Chancellor Scholz rounded off his government statement by making the case for confidence, stating that Germany had "old and new friends, partners and allies around the world who share our values and interests" and that Germany was "a well-established democracy with a vibrant civil society and an efficient economy". These are "our greatest strengths" and "Germany has the strength to guarantee our security".