News Federal Minister of Defence Underlines Relevance of Indo-Pacific Region
First paragraph of the articleFederal Minister of Defence Underlines Relevance of Indo-Pacific Region
In a series of virtual talks organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer focused on the increasing relevance of the Indo-Pacific region. In the first meeting on 5 November, she discussed the topic “The Indo-Pacific: Drafting a Geostrategic Roadmap for Australia and Germany” with her Australian counterpart Linda Reynolds.
The series of talks focuses on current security and defence developments in the Indo-Pacific, making reference to the Federal Government’s new policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region. In addition to Australia, Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is set to meet with her counterparts from Singapore and Japan in the coming days.
First stop of the virtual visit: Australia
The first stop of the Federal Minister’s virtual visit was a meeting with her Australian counterpart Linda Reynolds on 5 November. The conversation was hosted by Peter Jennings, Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), and Beatrice Gorawantschy, Director of the Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Canberra. Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasised Australia’s role as an important partner who shares the same values and as an anchor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region. She made the case for further boosting cooperation between Australia and Germany on security and defence, but also on armaments cooperation. “Together, we have to send a clear message”, she said.
Deepening NATO-Australia relations
Germany was promoting stronger relations between NATO and Australia in the context of “partners across the globe”, the Minister continued. This was especially true for the areas of cyber defence, space, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism, and arms control.
Discussing the Federal Government’s policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that Australia was gaining importance in the area of security and defence, not least because Southeast Asia as a whole was becoming increasingly relevant for Germany and Europe in geopolitical terms. “We are talking about shared interests and values”, she said, adding that the Federal Government was firmly committed to the multilateral and value-based global order. In this world, the strength of the law must apply, not the law of the strongest.
As partners in the support of this order, Australia and Germany were looking back on good, close cooperation, which should be expanded further, she said. Together, both countries were working on a security architecture for the Indo-Pacific region. The Federal Minister called for “an international network of like-minded countries.”
Cooperation at different levels
Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that there were several possible tools to achieve a stronger German presence in East and Southeast Asia. In addition to diplomacy and foreign policy, these included different forms of military presence such as staff talks and strategic dialogues, but also the embarkation of personnel on vessels of partner countries, training cooperation, the dispatch of German liaison officers to multilateral headquarters, and the participation of the Bundeswehr in exercises in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Indo-Pacific region is highly relevant
The Minister stated that it was important to communicate, during the ongoing German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, that the Indo-Pacific was an arena of “global power competition”, not least with regard to open sea routes. These were extremely relevant for Germany and Europe, as a large proportion of goods was transported via these sea routes, she added. The European Union was an economically strong region seeking to be a stronger strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region.
Addressing her Australian counterpart, Kramp-Karrenbauer said, “We share an interest in security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.” Linda Reynolds replied that with security comes peace. And with peace comes prosperity, adding that the unity and cohesion of like-minded countries was fundamental in a world where confidence in multilateralism and the rules-based order were dwindling.
China – a difficult partner
Moderator Peter Jennings wanted to know what future relations with China would look like. Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that, in her opinion, China’s increasingly expansive claims were a cause for concern. In addition, ideological rivalry between authoritarian China and the free world had been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. At the same time, China was an important economic partner. It was time to have an open dialogue with Beijing about dividing issues, she said.
Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer on the US elections
With the results of the US elections still outstanding, Kramp-Karrenbauer said in response to Peter Jenning’s question that the US were a close and important partner, regardless of the election results. The issues of military cooperation and burden sharing would continue to be on the Europeans’ agenda. The Minister emphasised, however, that Germany also had to continue to be prepared to do more for its own security in the future.