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German security paper set to affirm stronger role on world stage

Published 12/07/2016

The paper stresses that Germany will not act unilaterally
The paper stresses that Germany will not act unilaterally

Germany has affirmed its growing role on the world stage in new security guidelines that mark another step away from its caution following the Second World War.

A draft defence policy paper due to be presented on Wednesday states that "Germany is a globally highly connected country ... which has a responsibility to actively shape the global order".

The paper formalises what leading officials have been saying for the past two and a half years - a period in which Germany has played a leading diplomatic role in the Ukraine conflict and joined a campaign to support the fight against Islamic insurgents in Mali.

Germany also sent weapons to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, breaking with a previous reluctance to send arms into conflict situations.

Although the country has stepped up its diplomatic and military role, there is still little chance of the government - which must have all military missions approved by parliament - dispatching combat troops to global hotspots in the same way as European allies France and the UK, or acting unilaterally.

The so-called "white book," the first such security policy review since 2006, stresses that Germany has no intention of acting alone and that all military action and diplomatic crises need to be tackled and solved with the country's partners and allies.

"The armed forces are focused on acting in a multilateral framework," it says.

"When it comes to taking responsibility for international security we are strongly dependent on the coordinated cooperation with our partners."

However, the government also said: "Germany is ready to introduce itself as an early, determined and substantial source of inspiration in the international debate, to have responsibility and take on leadership."

The paper also raises, albeit vaguely, the possibility of other European Union countries' citizens serving in Germany's military.

"Opening the armed forces for citizens of the EU would offer not just far-reaching integration and regeneration potential for their personnel robustness, but also would be a strong signal for a European perspective," it said.

Germany backs Nato nations' pledge to spend 2% of their national incomes on defence and is increasing defence spending.

However, German chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged last week that "a lot remains to be done" to reach that mark - officials estimate that Germany's defence spending will increase from 1.19% of gross domestic product this year to 1.21% in 2017.

Germany emerged slowly from its post-Second World War diplomatic shell after reunification in 1990.

Former chancellor Helmut Kohl broke a taboo over deploying troops abroad by sending military medics to support the UN mission in Cambodia in 1992.

By the early 2000s, Germany had thousands of troops abroad - taking significant roles in Afghanistan and Kosovo, among other places.

AP

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