German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warned on Thursday that Berlin needed to take a more active role in military engagements abroad.
Germany must “openly deal with the fact that we, like every other country in the world, have our own strategic interests,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In a speech delivered later Thursday at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, she said Germany greatly benefits from rules-based global order and should do more to secure its success.
Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that when she travels abroad, allies often ask her if Germany could do more.
“A country of our size, with our economic and technological power, our geostrategic location and global interests, cannot just stand on the sidelines and watch,” she said. “Germany must participate in international debates and drive them forward.”
But her proposal was met with caution from other Cabinet members. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the idea of a more assertive German military required robust support from European allies.
“Above all, we must define our responsibility on a European basis,” Maas told public broadcaster ZDF. “That means that we don’t just take care of our own issues alone, but rather that we as part of Europe play a leading role in competition between superpowers.”
Germany has often taken a backseat in foreign military engagements, largely because of constitutional restrictions put in place to prevent similar atrocities to those committed during World War II.
But Germany’s allies, including the US, have urged the country to take more responsibilities concerning collective security in NATO and the EU.
Washington has notably pushed for significant increases to defense spending, long considered a divisive move in the German public.
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s comments come hours before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Germany for commemorations marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
ls/rt (dpa, AFP)
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