Shifting the balance of power, including China’s emergence as a “global military actor” should be part of NATO’s reform thinking, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said late Wednesday.
It comes after two days of alliance talks involving fellow foreign ministers from the 30-nation alliance.
“We have to find a well-thought-out approach to China,” Maas said in a statement issued by the German Foreign Ministry.
“There will be opportunities we can use,” Maas said in a later statement, “and challenges that we need to prepare for” in the coming decades.
Ministers from regional partners, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea also attended a video conference on Wednesday.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that while China may not share NATO values, it is not an opponent, observing that Beijing has invested heavily in new military capabilities while criticizing its human rights record.
A 67-page high-level report submitted to NATO ministers on Tuesday urged the alliance to expand its scope beyond the Cold War and “adapt” to the rise of China and “persistently aggressive Russia”.
Based on reaction, Stoltenberg is expected to draw up a plan of action to be finalized at the alliance’s next summit in the second quarter of 2021.
Germany’s ‘Indo-Pacific Guidelines’
Maas said the German cabinet’s adoption of Indo-Pacific Guidelines in September would allow Germany to contribute to discussions on NATO reform.
The German guidelines describe China, Japan, the US and India as “confident partners” in the Asia-Pacific field, requiring cooperation, “for example, on climate change and global biodiversity loss.
First, stop fighting
Within NATO, Europe in recent years has sought to strengthen its responsibility “much needed given the many crises in our environment,” said Maas, noting what he called “role played by Russia in Ukraine and Georgia. “
NATO’s main step, however, is to “end bickering” between partners, Maas stressed, without specifically mentioning members of rivals such as Turkey and Greece who have disputed Cyprus and its maritime mineral deposits.
A high-level analysis of the alliance delivered Tuesday warned: “Political differences within NATO are dangerous.”
The ‘clear conditions’ before Afghanistan’s withdrawal
Regarding Afghanistan and NATO missions since 2014 involving many allied nations, including Germany, Maas said the aim was “to secure hard-earned rights for many parts of the country. [Afghan] population.”
Referring to US President Donald Trump’s push to withdraw American troops and the Taliban-Kabul peace negotiations, Maas said Afghanistan “must not be allowed to return to war.”
The troop reduction must be linked to “clear conditions,” said the German Foreign Minister: “We must not simply give up on this lever in the peace process.”
ipj / aw (dpa, Reuters)
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