Keynote Address by Rainer Arnold, Member of German Parliament at the 2nd German / Asian Dialogue on Security Policy


Trans-National Security Risks in Southeast Asia:Diagnosis, Prognosis, Therapies


Dear ladies and gentlemen,

thank you very much for the friendly introduction and for the warm welcome.

It is an honour and a pleasure for me to address you here on this seminar today.


The 2nd German-Asian Dialogue on Security Policy is the follow-up of the first Dialogue. We need a thorough and sober analysis of current and future threats and challenges based on which we can develop further political strategies to counter them. So we will concentrate our discussion in this conference not only on the analysis of the various security problems and security risks in the region but also on the answers, how we can handle these challenges in a sustainable way.

Germany and Indonesia

Being a guest in Indonesia leads me to some general remarks on our bilateral relations.

Relations between Indonesia and Germany are good and not marked by any problems. The latest in the series of high-ranking bilateral visits was Federal Chancellor Schröder's visit to Indonesia in May 2003. In February and August 2002 two delegations from the German Bundestag held intensive discussions in Jakarta with parliamentarians, government representatives and civil society actors. We know and appreciate that Indonesia sees Germany as an important partner not only on a bilateral level but also with regard to its relations with the European Union.

Currently some 170 German companies - including many with production operations - do business in Indonesia. Although bilateral trade decreased by 3.8 percent in 2002, the balance of trade continues to show a surplus in Indonesia's favour. Germany is Indonesia's most important trading partner in the European Union. German investment realised in Indonesia since 1967 amounts to 8.6 billion US-Dollar and has been allocated to around 200 projects.

The intergovernmental negotiations in December 2002 confirmed the re-orientation launched in 2000, focusing on the following three priority cooperation areas:

  • health and family planning
  • economic reform and development of a market economy and
  • transport

Besides these priority sectors it was agreed to continue support for reforms designed to decentralise government structures and at the same time strengthen local government and parliaments as a cross-sectoral task of German-Indonesian development cooperation. In the context of these reforms, important contributions are also being made by the political foundations active in Indonesia like the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and other German and Indonesian NGOs.

Cooperation in the field of science and technology is based on a 1979 agreement. Some 20,000 Indonesian scientists and engineers have studied or trained in Germany to date. President Megawati's Government aims to focus research and technology projects on improving Indonesians' living conditions as well as revitalising the economy. These match the priorities of our cooperation in the field of science and technology too.

But also in deeply regret, that the cooperation between the armed forces of Indonesia and Germany has receded, we would be very happy to assist the integration of military in the democratic structure through our training institutions in Germany.

Foreign and Security Policy Issues in Southeast Asia

According to President Megawati's policy statement, Indonesia aims for a free and independent foreign policy. The framework for the country's relations with its Southeast Asian neighbours is provided by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN also encompasses the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a body dealing with security policy, and fora for dialogue with other partners from Asia and beyond: Japan, China, Korea, India, the United States of America and last but not least the European Union.

The ARF, which was establish nine years ago in Bangkok and which includes 10 member states, is the only forum for dialogue on security policy in the Asia Pacific region. It has devised three stages for dialogue on security policy:

  • promotion of confidence-building measures
  • development of preventative diplomacy and
  • elaboration of mechanisms for conflict settlement.

The current position seems to be between stages 1 and 2. A variety of "soft" Confidence and Security Building Messures have been implemented and the political role of the chair - in terms of preventative diplomacy - enhanced.

The task of developing and establishing mechanisms for conflict settlements should be supported by Germany as well as by the European Union or the OSCE. I am very much aware of the problems of multilateral security structures like the OSCE for many states in the Southeast-Asian region. Different national security interests as well as national resilience do not make multilateral security structures very much attractive yet. But in the region as well as in global dimension all countries face security challenges which cannot be fought by national means alone. Even if we take into account that many Southeast Asian states have bilateral treaties on security issues with the United States, which are playing a key role in this area, Southeast Asia should be open minded to a more deepened multilateral security structure. In my view the ARF has the potential to become this security structure in the future.

Three Security Council Members are part of the ARF yet, as well as the four most densely populated states of the world and 9 states with a very dynamic economy. So from the structure of the ARF membership we see the need for a common or multilateral approach to regional and transnational as well as international security issues. So, why do not work on the task of establishing a functioning regional security system with much more enthusiasm ?

Germany and Europe are prepared to share our experiences in political dialogue, treaty-based security and confidence building measures, civil crisis prevention and crisis management as well as verified arms control and disarmament with our partners in the Southeast Asian region. The exchange of experiences does not mean that we aim to simply transfer our policy into this region. We are aware of the different political, social, cultural and economical conditions. Nevertheless we are also convinced that we have some profound political experiences to offer and we are prepared to work with you - if wanted - on these projects.

German Southeast Asia Concept

As you know, the German Government has replaced the so-called Asia Concept with regional papers. Now there are strategies on South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia. Thus German foreign policy can be more targeted in Asia. Even these regional papers can only be generalisations. But they do signal progress and are a commitment to regional integration.

Generally speaking, Germany's relations with Asian states can be summarised as follows: good partnership. At the beginning of the new millennium, particularly after September 11, a new dimension has been added to this partnership, Southeast Asian states face momentous challenges like European countries which no-one would have predicted a few years ago.

Let us look back. In the early 1990s, European relations with Asia were characterised by great optimism, both politically and economically. Politically, because the end of the East-West conflict gave cause for hope that relations with China could be further developed or that many conflicts in Asia that were relics of the Cold War could be solved. Economically, because the hard-working people in your countries generated a boom, particularly in Southeast Asia, in China, Japan and Korea, from which we in Europe also benefited. We all saw globalisation as a great opportunity back then.

But the globalised world is also marked by mutual dependency and vulnerability. The fine line between domestic and foreign policy is becoming finer; the protective function of the state is being undermined; governments are losing power to companies, associations or even to individuals. And at the very latest on September 11, we had to learn that globalisation does not just have an economic dimension but also a highly complex and even dangerous political one. Globalisation means more than new markets or better-value products. Globalisation also means the globalisation of dangers, of terrorism, of injustice. New York, Djerba or Bali are suddenly no longer thousands of miles apart; they are individual pieces in the very same horrific mosaic.

The new concept of globalisation changes international politics. Privatised violence, the risks of proliferation, globalised terrorism or the erosion of government control functions demand new, creative responses - joint responses. The alternative model can only be: deeper integration of states and a peace policy based on an extended security cooperative concept. In short, you and we are facing no less a challenge than to launch a new global domestic policy.

What components does such a policy require?

A consistent security policy starts with dialogue, confidence and security building measures, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. They play a central role in a new system of global governance. Proliferation dangers also have to be countered by stepping up international cooperation. Here it is a matter of guaranteeing effective export controls and helping eliminate surplus stocks of weapons and weapons-carrying systems in the framework of an arms-control system.

Secondly, regional conflicts have to be resolved. It is in our common interest that Southeast Asia should not become a dangerous hotspot in world's security policy.

In respect to the role of the keypowers in the region we face profound changes. After the East-West-Conflict those countries are tackling out a new position. Especially China seems to have the strong will to become a regional dominating power next to the United States. We have a high potential on risks for stability and security trough many religious and ethnic motivated tensions and efforts to gain independence as well as various social conflicts. These potentials are enriched with growing transnational criminal structures in terms of piracy, human trafficking and trafficking of drugs and arms. These are challenges not only for the Southeast Asia but for us all.

Some developments give cause for hope. Take the example of Indonesia. We see progress in the shape of independence for East Timor, the autonomy legislation for Aceh or the agreement with the GAM movement, even if we face some current backslashes.

If we are to shape globalisation fairly and to fight terrorism, it will not be enough to work on global disarmament and settle regional conflicts; above all, we must develop a comprehensive political concept to combat the social and economic conflicts in crisis regions. Poverty and social instability as well as the lack of good governance are the breeding-ground on which fundamentalism, hatred and terror flourish.

These aspects have been included in the German regional concept for Southeast Asia. Security issues have moved to the fore. Political dialogue and cultural cooperation have been added to the previously business-oriented concepts. Shaping globalisation in all its facets in a way which is socially just and sustainable - that is the challenge we face in this century. In concrete terms, this means a host of approaches: greater efforts within the context of development policy, a committed environmental and climate policy, the consolidation of civil societies, and solving of the migration problems. That is why we are pursuing non-military courses of action. That is why we also strongly supported the establishment of an International Criminal Court.

As you know, human rights are very important to us. Human rights are not a luxury which can be pushed into the background when security policy is top of the agenda. Quite the opposite is true. Promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law is the most reliable basis for lasting stability and peace.

The international community must take a firm stand against the recent alarming tendency to justify human rights violations as part of the fight against terrorism. There must not be an anti-terrorism "bonus".

All of the elements mentioned above of a new joint policy would be ineffective, if they were not anchored in multilateral structures and the United Nations system.

We regard the United Nations as the key forum for resolving global issues, as well as regional conflicts. Who, if not the UN, has the legitimacy to create agreements and structures which can claim to be binding worldwide? That is how we see our role in the Security Council. We want to use our membership to strengthen the Security Council's role as a peacekeeping forum. Germany advocates strengthening the United Nations, doing so in close cooperation with its European partners. Germany sees itself as an initiator and supporter of measures in the United Nations framework aimed at making the world a safe and liveable place for future generations. Our priorities lie in resolving regional conflicts with political means. These are some of the main topics in the latest speech of Chancellor Schröder in the new session of the UN General Assembly. With his presence at the General Assembly Schröder wanted to underscore Germany's commitment to multilateralism and international law as well as to the importance of the United Nations, its objectives, and principles. Included among the latter are the principles of settling conflicts peacefully and avoiding the use of force.

Germany is committed to multilateralism. Germany's foreign policy is increasingly a common EU foreign policy. European integration lies at the centre of our policy. Precisely because of our positive experiences with the European Union, we welcome the fact that regional cooperation is developing favourably in Southeast Asia, too. Regional integration structures are indispensable for our goal of a common policy based on partnership in future.

We very much welcome ASEAN's achievements in strengthening regional cooperation through joint development. We hope that ASEAN with the ARF will become the engine of conflict prevention, the settlement of regional conflicts and the fight against terrorism in Southeast Asia.

The ASEM dialogue forum is another pillar in our cooperation. The last ASEM-summit strongly emphasised our common ground, for example in the fight against terrorism, and made possible a dialogue on other pressing issues, such as the Iraq war and its consequences. Due to the broad range of issues it addresses, ASEM is well-suited to tackling new challenges

A last but particularly important aspect of our partnership is that the numerous official dialogue fora can only be successful if the dialogue includes our people, our citizens. Europe and Southeast Asian's civil societies must be more closely involved in it. That is why we expanded our offer to young people from Southeast Asian countries to study in Germany. The dialogue among cultures also includes, and here we come back again to the security concept, a dialogue with Islam. You in Southeast Asia recognise the importance of the dialogue among religions. We would like to try, together with you, to develop a culture of open minded and critical tolerance. Intercultural dialogue is an attempt to find a common set of basic values for our journey into the 21st century.

In this context I would like to inform you that there will be a public international hearing in the German Bundestag on the very important topic "The Sharia and Human Rights". The hearing will focus especially on the aspects of how to warrant human rights and the freedom of religion as well as the equal rights of men and women. The hearing should lead to a deeper understanding of the different religious and legal cultures as well as option for German Human Rights Policy.

Progress in building functional networks in Asia and in Europe is a key element of stability, also at the global level.

The new challenges of the twenty-first century are clear to see: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combined with global terrorism and failing states. Europe, and Southeast Asia, too, must face these challenges. One appropriate response to the new challenge is a comprehensive, strategic dialogue which takes up all issues of international security. A common analysis of the threat and agreement on suitable instruments must be part of this.

The EU has thus begun to develop a new security strategy which it seeks to incorporate into the transatlantic dialogue. Europe and Asia likewise need a comprehensive strategic dialogue. The EU will co-chair the Intersessional Group of the ASEAN Regional Forum in 2004 together with Cambodia.

The European Union and Southeast Asia

In the background paper to this conference it was said that European-Asian partnership is still far away from a strategic alliance, despite in some areas of more intensive cooperation. This critical characterisation reflects the actual reality. But it is my understanding that the European Union - and so Germany as well - has the strong will to concentrate much more on this partnership, because it realised the strategic dimension of it. So let me turn to some new aspects of European-Southeast Asian relationship.

In July 2003 the EU Commission presented its new partnership with South East Asia. A principal task now is to support and to encourage the forces present in our civil societies to engage in dialogue across regional, religious and cultural borders. The Commission holds out the offer of bilateral agreements with countries in the region to deepen cooperation on a modern agenda. The Commission is also proposing a regional trade action plan, the so-called "Transregional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative", which seeks closer cooperation between both regions on a wide range of trade, investments and regulatory issues. The European Commission presents some suggestions of how the existing institutional framework could be made more productive, by defining more clearly which issues should be tackled by the Asia Europe meeting, ASEAN and the ARF.

Europe is the first donor of development assistance to help Southeast Asia tackle the poverty which helps breed instability. But there is still much more which could and should be done together. So the EU Commission sets out a flexible strategy for deeper cooperation with individual countries within a regional framework.

It proposes revitalising the EU's relations with ASEAN and the countries of South East Asia. It is built on the assumption that the countries of Europe and South East Asia share many common features and values, as well as important political and economic interests.

Six strategic priorities are now identified for European relations with Southeast Asia, and a number of actions by which they could be improved:

  • Supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism: The EU is convinced that a strong ASEAN is probably the best guarantee for peace and stability in the region.
  • Human Rights, democratic principles and good governance will be promoted in all aspects of EC policy dialogue and development cooperation
  • Mainstreaming Justice and Home Affairs issues: In striving to create in the EU an area of freedom, justice and security, it is regarded as essential to incorporate this dimension in EU external relations.
  • Injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations: The EU and ASEAN have a strong interest in reinforcing their economic ties.
  • Continuing to support the development of less prosperous countries: Poverty reduction will remain an important development priority for the EU and we will continue to provide assistance towards strengthening the social infrastructure of the poorest countries in the region, particularly in the fields of health and education.
  • In seeking to enhance its relations with Southeast Asia in these ways, the EU want to offer new bilateral agreements to countries in the region, while seeking to maximise the utility of the existing institutional frameworks, both bilateral and multilateral. It will also look to make the best use of available resources, such as the newly completed network of Commission delegations in Southeast Asia.
  • Last but not least, the Commission strongly advocates that the deepening of EU cooperation with Southeast Asia is visible not only to government circles, but also to a wider audience of people in business, academia, the media, and ultimately to the general populations as a whole.

Cooperation as the common challenge

We know: world is at a crossroads: terrorism, regional conflicts, proliferation as well as the dangers of globalisation, affect your countries just as much as ours and require creative answers. We are confident that we can master these challenges together in a spirit of transnational and transregional partnership. Will we succeed together in implementing a multilateral policy which, in the final analysis, is a global peace policy? Can we translate the "culture of prevention" called for by former and acting General Secretary of the United Nations into practical policies? If, in the framework of dialogue and cooperation among our governments, multilateral institutions and civil societies, we tackle the issues which we have recognised to be central in a manner which is just and sustainable.

Cooperation is the name of the challenge when it comes to mastering the tasks we are confronted with today. Germany and its European partners are committed to work for this objective. Broadening and deepening our dialogue with our Asian partners is part of this endeavour. Conferences like this one are important for furthering our mutual understanding and for promoting common strategies to enhance regional and global security.

I am very much looking forward for us all to have interesting and fruitful discussions.

Thank you very much.