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International Relations Security Foreign policy

Germany: The Abstention Champion

Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament
Security Council Summit on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Photo: United Nations Photo/flickr.

The UN General Assembly has recently approved a motion to grant a non-member observing state status to Palestine. Exactly 138 states have approved this motion, 9 rejected, 41 abstained. As predicted, Germany was one of these abstaining countries, again.

The expiring membership of the UN Security Council by the end of this year provides an ideal opportunity to evaluate German foreign policy after this two year period – also regarding next year’s elections. If you summarize this period, the pure absence of foreign policy positioning cannot be ignored. In fact, there was no German foreign policy.

Hitherto, German foreign and security policy was marked either by a close transatlantic cooperation, or by a counter balance towards a stronger European position. In the past four years, German foreign policy was lost in crisis management, completely dominated by the Euro Crisis resulting in a priority shift towards monetary crisis remedies, leaving foreign policy fields on the side-line. Particularly, security policy was marked by self-limiting abstention in the UN Security Council during the 2011 Libyan War. The Syrian Civil War caused a direct follow-up to these developments; a reluctance to provide Patriot Missiles for Turkey for border protection is another dead-give-away for Germany’s confusing foreign and security policy strategy.