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German media roundup: Stepping onto the world stage

The Local · 13 Oct 2010, 12:27

Published: 13 Oct 2010 12:27 GMT+02:00

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After months of intense lobbying, Germany managed to secure a two-year term in the world’s most important body on Tuesday.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed the show of support for Berlin in the UN General Assembly as proof the world considered Germany a reliable member of the international community.

Westerwelle said Berlin would use its time on the Security Council to promote nuclear disarmament and development. But on Wednesday he dismissed suggestions that Germany’s extra foreign policy clout would require a greater financial and military commitment to the United Nations.

Speaking to broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, Westerwelle also said Berlin hoped to push forward a comprehensive reform of the world body – which would include more permanent members on the Security Council.

The German government has made no secret it would like to have a perpetual spot at the table, but the papers in The Local’s media roundup on Wednesday had few illusions about Berlin’s real foreign policy heft on the world stage.

“Germany is in no way a great power,” summed up the right-wing daily Die Welt succinctly. But the country’s role as the world’s fourth-largest economy still carries some weight among UN members. “And Germany also now provides troops to combat zones, no longer believing it can buy its military innocence by writing fat cheques.”

The paper also said the fact that Berlin won the seat in a first round of voting in the UN General Assembly proved Westerwelle’s lobbying had paid off.

“Westerwelle was successful in the end, but he would be well advised not to tout his triumph too loudly,” wrote Die Welt, explaining Germany’s victory was a result of its support for a multilateral foreign policy.

The left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau said Westerwelle must use Germany’s time on the Security Council to strengthen the United Nations and combat the widening gap between the world’s rich and poor.

“Foreign policy doesn’t end with overly friendly words, abstract agreements and trite declarations,” wrote the paper, arguing Westerwelle must give the UN precedence over more exclusive international groupings like the G8. “Only then could the vote in New York turn out to be great opportunity for Foreign Minister Westerwelle and for Germany.”

The centrist Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel warned Germany’s increased influence would also bring added responsibility.

“A seat on the Security Council is as much a burden as it is an honour,” opined the paper. “The next two years will offer Germany few opportunities to shine, but plenty of trying moments for German diplomats in New York.”

Despite Westerwelle’s attempt on Wednesday to pre-empt calls for greater financial support and troops for UN missions, Der Tagesspiegel said that’s exactly what Germany’s higher foreign policy profile could demand, pointing to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, Iran’s contentious nuclear programme and Middle East peace efforts as just a few of the challenges the international community faced.

Story continues below…

The Dresden-based regional daily the Sächsische Zeitung wrote that the big boys’ club on the Security Council had no incentive to cede power to other nations, making a permanent spot for Germany unlikely. Therefore it was better to make an effort to empower the UN to act more quickly in a crisis, it wrote.

“Anyone who talks of a permanent seat for Germany after this result ignores the realities of world politics,” it wrote. “To the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, reform would mean a relinquishment of influence in favour of south Asia, Latin America and Africa, whose nations have no voice in the exclusive club.

“It is much more important to give the body more authority to react quickly in crisis situations and make clear decisions during conflicts.”

The Local/mry/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:44 October 20, 2010 by Victor Scicluna
With its extreme pacifist attitudes Germany has actually no place in the UN Security Council, Germany can´t afford to lose two soldiers in Afganistan before another debate starts about withdrawing its troops.

The security council should be a world police force which no one dares challenge, imagine if our local police force chose to be nuetral when things such a a bank hold up or with the next crazy gun shooting guy in some school or shopping centre.

We cannot keep accepting UN soldiers looking the other way as happened in massacres in Bosnia, this is a shame.

I admire German´s pacifist stand but try writing a letter to some North Korean leader or Taliban leader that you think keeping a country under such inhumane conditions is not ok.

My vision of the UN Security Council is that it would have a military which is so strong that no one would actually dare to go to war. Imagine a real positive and well armed UN Military with a multinational force of Russian, Chinese, USA, Australia, Brazil, France, UK or the EU and others giving say North Korea or Burma (not even the size of Bavaria) say six months to free thier people or they take over .....

Writing letters or imposing sanctions on the brutal leaders brings nothing .... except give them more excuses to oppress their people due to foreign interference.

Germany needs to decide ... BMW and holidays or being a responsible UN security council member where it will oppose any measures which might seem unpopular.

Just look at how they handle the Intigration issue, one statement such as Seehofer and all politicians quickly distance themselves from him.

He is right.
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