The city state of Singapore was Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s second stop on her virtual visit to the Indo-Pacific region. The Federal Minister of Defence and her counterpart, Ng Eng Hen, agreed that peace and progress in the Indo-Pacific could only be sustained in cooperation.
Singapore, the Lion City: The city state with a population of about six million is one of the most important trade and financial hubs in the Indo-Pacific region due to its location at the Strait of Malacca. Bilateral security relations between Germany and Singapore have grown stronger in recent years. The government of the multi-ethnic state is watching tensions in the region with concern.
The global political and economic centre of gravity is shifting from the transatlantic towards the Indo-Pacific region. The latter will have a significant impact on the future international order.Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in conversation with the Minister for Defence of Singapore
Singapore, like Germany, firmly believes in multilateral cooperation in international institutions. Ministers Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Ng Eng Hen were therefore quick to agree on closer cooperation. “We have to stand together to sustain peace and security in the region”, Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer said after the virtual meeting. “It is in our very own interest to foster strong partnerships with countries that share our norms and values – countries like Singapore.”
The meeting was organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. The Federal Minister of Defence is currently meeting Germany’s most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region to promote a value-based and multilateral international order.
The new German government policy guidelines on the Indo-Pacific region, published in autumn, are to be the foundation of a common strategic approach. Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer’s conversation with her Australian counterpart Linda Reynolds was the first in her series of virtual talks on “The Indo-Pacific: Drafting a Geostrategic Roadmap”. Further conversations are to follow soon.
The Indo-Pacific region is one of the most dynamic and innovative economic areas in the world and is thus very important for Germany as an export nation. “Singapore is a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region and an important ally for multilateralism,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. She added that Singapore is a member of the ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations Association of Southeast Asian Nations and, like Germany, is interested in security, stability, and growth.
This is one reason why security relations between the two countries have been thriving in recent years. For example, a German liaison officer has been dispatched to the regional Information Fusion Centre (IFC) in Singapore. Since 2018, a defence research attaché has been responsible for defence cooperation. Not only is Singapore currently procuring four submarines from Germany, it also uses Leopard 2A4 MBTs and other German-made military equipment.
The Indo-Pacific had become a theatre of rivalry between China and the US, the Federal Minister continued. The naval routes through the region, however, were also very important for Germany and Europe, as a considerable part of European trade was conducted along these routes. This is why Germany intended to increase its military presence in the region to match its interests – mostly by deploying ships, she stated. “We want to strengthen our maritime presence in the region to demonstrate our solidarity and to contribute to the regional security architecture,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
Port visits to partner countries are to show that Germany is closely following the developments in the Indo-Pacific. Furthermore, German military personnel is to increase its participation in military exercises in the region. The Federal Government also intends to establish a German Information Centre in Singapore to combat propaganda and fake news. In addition, the FMoD stated that Singapore as a high-tech hub offered a number of opportunities for cooperation on cyber defence.