German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is making visit to India and Bangladesh this week. One of the stops on his tour will be the dynamic southern Indian city of Bangalore where over a 150 German business are active.
Germany and India have been working closely together for quite some time to reform the UN Security Council. Berlin and New Delhi both are seeking a permanent seat on the body.
Mr Westerwelle seems at awe of the economic and strategic power of the rising Asian giants judging by his comment at a recent conference in Berlin entitled “Asia’s New Powers – Values, Economy, World Order”. During a panel discussion, Mr Westerwelle was carrying forward the tradition of German modesty and underestimating itself. Westerwelle said that while Germany certainly was important in Europe, its influence on the world stage was small and that “modesty” was in order. He also stated that “We are no longer setting the pace”.
For realist with a good grasp of the view from Asia, Westerwelle’s views – which are fairly typical of a northern European politician – seem somewhat too modest. Germany is the world’s second largest exporter and the leading voice in Europe. A stronger voice in world affairs is held back only by Germany’s own lack of ambition, not by growing Asian powers.Moreover, Westerwelle was of the opinion that only a united Europe would have a greater influence on the world. That notion seems at odds with how events are developing in the continent.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle – the face of timidity?
Interesting opinion piece by Volker Perthes, executive chairman and director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, in the newspaper The Australian. Mr Perthes suggests that the switch from G7 (and G8) to the G20 and with US and large parts of Europe facing financial crisis the global power is shifting to multiple players.
THE multipolar nature of today’s international system is on display at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Global problems are no longer solved, crises managed or global rules defined, let alone implemented, the traditional way, by a few, mostly Western, powers.
Incipient great and middle powers, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and South Africa, also want their say.
Some of these powers are still emerging economies. Politically, however, most have crossed the threshold that has long limited their access to the kitchen of international decision-making.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council still defend their right to veto resolutions, and their military power is unmatched, but they can no longer dispose of sufficient resources, competence and legitimacy to cope with global challenges or crises on their own.
Bipolarity is a thing of the past, and it is unlikely to re-emerge in a new Sino-American G2.
The international order is becoming more pluralistic. The task for established Western democracies is to accept and cope with such democratic differences on the international level and to seek multilateral coalitions to manage or solve problems.
In principle, the EU is better positioned than the US (and certainly than China) for this task. Europeans are well practised in dealing with differences and shaping consensus among principally like-minded states. That said, Europe needs to be clearer and more transparent about the interests underlying its own policies.
The last two paragraphs suggest that Perthes wants the still solvent nations of northern Europe, notably Germany, to have an increasing say in world affairs. Germany has hitherto not stated its strategic interests clearly.
The Royal Australian Navy is looking to replace its fleet of submarines currently consisting of 6 Collins-class submarines. The Collins-class is an enlarged version of Swedish shipbuilder Kockums’ Västergötland-class, built in Australia between 1990 and 2003 with design and assistance by Kockums. The fleet has been plagued by problems and at times only two submarines have been in active service concurrently.
The Collins-class submarines are due to exit service around 2025 and Australia are looking to buy up to 12 replacement ships according to a 2009 defence report. The Australian government has ruled out nuclear propulsion and have short-listed a number of conventional European off-the-shelf options. In the running are Spanish S-80 class, the French-Spanish designed Scorpène class, the German-designed Type 214, and Japan’s Sōryū class. A decision on the design should be taken before 2013 with construction to start in 2016.
One of six Collins-class submarines currently in service
According to the the blog European Strategy, which is run by the Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES), these are the fifteen most powerful countries in the world in the year 2012.
With most of southern Europe is financial crisis, can we expect northern European countries to climb the rank in the future? Certainly Germany’s economic strength and influence within the EU justifies its position above France and Russia, and equal to the United Kingdom.