Following the round-table discussion, Tobias Lindner answered three questions on the »Zeitenwende« and the planned National Security Strategy in a written interview.
Against the backdrop of the Russian attack on Ukraine and the proclaimed »Zeitenwende«: How will Germany's international role develop in the coming years? How sustainable will the change in German foreign policy be?
Tobias Lindner: Every new government starts with a review of previous policies. The Coalition Agreement, for example, provides for the evaluation of foreign military missions, announces a more effective foreign climate policy and also, for the first time, a feminist foreign policy. The »Zeitenwende« is now putting our security policy up for a fundamental review. Is our current security policy suited to protect and defend our values and interests? What is clear is that a Europe in which people are murdered and cities are bombed to rubble, and in which our allies are afraid of their neighbour, is not one that is acceptable to us. That is why we must now urgently amend the course of the past years as well as reduce our dependency on fossil energy sources, and invest in the equipment and facilities of the Bundeswehr. I am convinced that if we think security policy comprehensively, Germany will be able to unfold its strength as a peace power and play a key role in Europe’s security. Finally, we are learning once again in these months how crucial it is to work together closely with partners – within the EU, NATO and also the G7. It is these partners and the common foundation of values that furnish Germany with support and room for manoeuvre.
What should be the core elements of the planned National Security Strategy?
The National Security Strategy will have to describe how Germany intends to safeguard its values and security interests and what policy it is pursuing to this end. This also requires a description of the current situation: What kind of world do we find ourselves in, what challenges and threats does it hold? I would like for us not only to describe the developments that worry us. We are still in the best position to look after our security and to continue to be a free and prosperous country that also helps other countries to be successful. Furthermore, the German Security Strategy will reflect essential elements of the Strategic Compass already adopted by the Member States of the European Union in March. Likewise, NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which is to be published in June, will play a role for the Security Strategy. What is decisive for me is that the policies we formulate and implement today must offer people and their families a life in security in the long term; this applies to the consequences of climate change as well as to questions of war and peace. »We must develop a concept of security for the future«, as Annalena Baerbock put it in her speech on 18 March.
How can a joint development of the National Security Strategy be implemented in practice? Which actors are crucial for you?
The National Security Strategy is written by the Federal Government under the auspices of the Federal Foreign Office. In practical terms, this means that we have set up a working group at the Federal Foreign Office in which colleagues with a wide range of professional backgrounds are involved and which is additionally reinforced by experts from other ministries. In consultation with the federal ministries, they will prepare a text by the end of the year, which will finally be adopted by the Cabinet. It is our aspiration that a comprehensive National Security Strategy is also supported by society. That is why we are not only conducting an intensive discourse with experts but also discussing it in Parliament with the parliamentary groups. At the same time, we are seeking a dialogue with allies and partners to find out what they expect of us and where we can benefit from their strategic processes and considerations. Finally, and this is particularly important to us, we are seeking a dialogue with citizens, because it is their security that is at stake. The Minister will be personally involved in this process.