Speech For Stability, Prosperity and a Rules-Based Order in the Indo-Pacific Region
First paragraph of the articleCommitment in the Indo-Pacific Region: For a Rules-Based Order
On 9 December 2020, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gave a virtual speech on the German commitment in the Indo-Pacific region and on cooperation with Asian partners.
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It is a great pleasure to be participating in the 10th anniversary celebration of the ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus and to be able to speak to you on this occasion. Special thanks goes to my Vietnamese counterpart, General Ngo Xuan Lich, for graciously inviting me. It is an honour to be here as your guest today.
For ten years now, you have been cooperating in this forum to strengthen peace and stability in the region. You have created a valuable forum to find supra-regional answers to supra-regional security matters.
Piracy, terrorism, cyber threats, natural disasters, climate change – none of these challenges stop at borders, they all require cooperation.
That, in turn, requires mutual trust, pooling of capabilities, and common strength. This is what the ADMM-PlusASEAN Defence Ministers‘ Meeting Plus is for – and has been, for the last 10 years.
My heartfelt congratulations on this anniversary!
It is of great concern to you that the people in your countries, in your region, can enjoy security, stability, and prosperity. And it matters to us as well!
Nobody knows better than you do about the cares and concerns of your countries and the solutions they are hoping for. Please allow me nevertheless to make some remarks from my personal perspective, which corresponds to perspectives you will find in NATO und the EU.
Ladies and gentlemen,
we in Germany and Europe are aware that the Indo-Pacific region is the most populous region in the world. It is where 20 of 33 megacities are. The three largest economies in the world border the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to its dynamic economic growth, Southeast Asia is becoming a new global driving force. The RCEPRegional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is one impressive recent example.
Our European economies are closely interconnected with yours in the region through global supply chains. That is a source of prosperity for all. Major trade routes that are essential for us, too, pass through the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific.
Meanwhile, we are also under the impression that the Indo-Pacific is increasingly becoming an arena of growing rivalries. We are witnessing unresolved territorial disputes and new armament efforts. We are seeing that freedom of navigation is being curtailed and that it is increasingly difficult to find common ground on issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As a global trading power, Germany takes a key interest in security, stability, and prosperity in the world – and thus, in the Indo-Pacific region as well. Any disruption in the region also has direct consequences for us here in Europe.
In Germany, we consider the rules-based global order to be of fundamental importance.
If multilateralism is being taken seriously, this is what it means:
To create procedures and rules that interweave the interests and positions of diverse nations in such a way that, time and again, new and sustainable ideas emerge. Ideas that can and will lead to common action.
Because one thing is for certain: Any ambitions in terms of foreign, security, and economic policy must not come at the expense of others! Germany supports a peaceful and fair resolution of conflicts. International law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provide a solid foundation for that.
Peace can only be preserved by pulling together.
This is why, together with likeminded states from the area we want to strengthen our presence in the region, thereby setting an example for rules-based multilateralism.
We are united by the common interests of
- wanting to uphold existing legislation;
- freedom of navigation;
- protecting open societies;
- trade according to fair rules.
Our engagement in the region is about actively working for stability and prosperity, for our rules-based order.
With the new policy guidelines on the Indo-Pacific that the Federal Government adopted in September 2020, Germany declared that it would enhance cooperation with partners in the region, including in the area of security and defence.
We intend to
- expand security and defence cooperation with partners in the region;
- intensify our military contacts; and
- promote dialogue on matters of security.
Specifically, that means, for example,
- demonstrating our solidarity with partners by participating in maritime exercises, by the embarkation of German navy officers on friendly vessels, and also by our own maritime presence.
- Moreover it could also comprise the dispatch of German liaison officers to multilateral organisations in the region
- and an increased cooperation in the area of cyber defence with regional partners who share the same values.
These different fields of cooperation now need to be discussed and filled with life.
In my view, ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations is the central forum for peaceful conflict resolution and security policy dialogue, for example when negotiating a code of conduct for the South China Sea.
About one year ago, Germany has embraced ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations’s code of conduct for peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue. We take this commitment seriously. That is why Germany would like to permanently support the work of ADMM-PlusASEAN Defence Ministers‘ Meeting Plus as an observer. We are prepared to actively contribute to a regional security architecture.
In this context, I also see a big opportunity for closer cooperation between the EU and ASEANAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations, for example in this forum, as part of ADMM-PlusASEAN Defence Ministers‘ Meeting Plus.
This would allow the two big regional organisations of Southeast Asia and Europe to assume one strong position for security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
Both sides would benefit – be it with regard to maritime security, training for peacekeeping operations, or disaster assistance.
I believe that NATO, too, should intensify the strategic dialogue among partners with shared values, and expand its partnerships.
I am convinced that we must act in concert to champion our shared interests and values and to foster peace and security in the region.
Once again, thank you very much for inviting me to your anniversary meeting.
Thank you for your attention.