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Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), established in 1975, provided an organization whose structure helped join West Germany and other Western countries with the emerging democracies of the former Soviet bloc. The CSCE, renamed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in January 1995, gained expanded responsibilities after the end of the Cold War. For Germany, an avid champion of the organization, the OSCE will provide a forum for greater inclusion of the former Warsaw Pact countries to discuss and coordinate security activities.

Although NATO officials insisted that the OSCE's role be restricted to a complementary one as concerned with the West's defense alliance, the foreign ministers of NATO member states had explicitly called for the OSCE to play a more prominent role in confidence-building and security cooperation. In September 1991, Genscher proposed a number of ideas for expanding the CSCE's capability and mandate. These proposals included creation of a security council and establishment of special forces for peacekeeping (blue helmets) and fighting of ecological disasters (green helmets). Germany actively pushed for the development of a conflict settlement procedure and for authorization for the OSCE to monitor the compliance of member states with human and minority rights standards. It would also use violations of member states as a legitimate condition for diplomatic intervention.

Germany's enthusiasm for the OSCE reflected the German preoccupation with multilateralism, a central theme in the country's foreign policy. The powerful emphasis on economic relations in the CSCE process also reflected the growing belief in Bonn that economic factors, rather than military capabilities, would be primary in shaping a new European and international security order. In this context, Bonn proposed and hosted the 1990 CSCE conference on economic cooperation in Europe. The Bonn CSCE document provided a framework for an integrated economic community based on market principles that would stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals.

Support for the CSCE, German officials argued, did not conflict with their government's commitment to other European and transatlantic defense organizations. On the contrary, if appropriate steps were taken in the design of a post-Cold War security order, one would simply overlap, or neatly dovetail, with another. Moves toward mechanisms that would strengthen Europe's collective security intensified in the first years after the breach of the Berlin Wall.

As a consequence of the November 1990 Paris Charter and the July 1992 Helsinki Summit, efforts commenced to strengthen the CSCE process through the establishment (in different capitals) of a parliamentary assembly, a permanent secretariat, an election monitoring center, and a conflict prevention center. Proponents championed the CSCE as the only pan-European forum for the discussion of security issues. From the beginning, however, skeptics warned of the limitations of an organization encompassing over fifty members--from Russia to Canada, and from Cyprus to the Vatican--whose decision-making capacity was governed by a prerequisite of unanimity among its members. CSCE members undertook the formidable and, in the view of many, unreasonable legal obligation "to provide mutual assistance in the case of an attack from the outside and the duty to submit to arbitration in the case of local conflicts."

The bickering and reservations over Maastricht--best symbolized by the defeat of the treaty in Denmark in the summer of 1992 and the victory by a narrow margin in France the following autumn--disrupted the carefully cultivated process of European economic and political unity, which had been supported on the continent, especially by policy makers in Germany and France. The paralysis of the CSCE, EU, and WEU in responding to the fighting in the Balkans in 1991 and 1992 also did much to dampen earlier optimism in Europe that the EU was on the verge of forging a framework for common foreign and defense policies.

United Nations

Since October 3, 1990, the day of German unification, the interests of Germans in the former FRG as well as those citizens in the former GDR have been represented by a single mission in the UN. Although German politicians repeatedly stated that the country was committed to assuming the same rights and responsibilities as other member states, Germany had remained undecided during the first years after unification as to what extent it would participate militarily--under Article 51 of the UN Charter--in collective security actions abroad.

Although Germany supported the policy pursued by the United States and its allies--condemnation of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, endorsement of the UN's peace initiatives, and the campaign to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwaiti territory--the Germans did not join combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. Although German participation in a combat role was barred primarily by legal constraints, Germany's abstention was related to other deeper, more complex issues as well. Many Germans believed that an out-of-area conflict such as the Persian Gulf War lay beyond the scope of German interests. The support of Germany's parliament for the war was tepid and initially ambiguous. Germany's traumatic twentieth-century history figured prominently in Bonn's hesitation.

Under pressure from the United States and other allies, Germany agreed in the fall of 1990 initially to contribute US$2.1 billion, together with military equipment and munitions, to the gulf peacekeeping force. Ultimately, German financial contributions to the UN for the Persian Gulf War totaled about US$10 billion.

Nevertheless, Germany remains committed to the UN's use of military force. In his first address to the UN General Assembly on September 23, 1992, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kinkel pledged that his country would support the UN's system of collective security. In his address, Kinkel stated that it was essential that "democracies . . . remain capable of defending themselves," even though the East-West conflict had been relegated to history. Kinkel maintained that the collective security system of the UN and regional arrangements such as the CSCE should be transformed into "powerful instruments of a new world domestic policy."

In the mid-1990s, German policy is that the country will continue to participate in peacekeeping missions. The German government continues to support the general outlines of UN policies and programs on humanitarian relief, developmental assistance, and environmental protection. However, statesmen from United States president Bush to UN secretary general Javier Prez de Cuellar (and later his successor Boutros Boutros-Ghali), have called for Germany to accept greater responsibility in world affairs by making use of not just its financial resources, but of its political and military capabilities as well.

Despite the fact that Germany has not yet resolved key questions about its international role, and specifically its contributions to peacemaking efforts, German politicians have already begun to suggest that the united country, presumably along with Japan, be considered for permanent membership on the UN Security Council. One school argues that a permanent seat is consistent with Germany's growing power and influence and the reconfiguration of world politics five decades after the end of World War II. Others contend that Germany's attainment of a permanent seat will occur only if states from Asia, Latin America, and Africa join as well. Because such expansion would have the effect of weakening the leadership role of the Security Council and thus the UN as a whole, many of these commentators reject the idea of permanent Security Council membership for Germany.

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Since 1990 there have been a number of excellent publications on the process of unification and the emerging challenges to Germany's foreign policy. Among the best are Germany's Position in the New Europe , edited by Arnulf Baring; The New Germany and the New Europe , edited by Paul B. Stares; and Developments in German Politics , edited by Gordon Smith, William E. Paterson, Peter H. Merkl, and Stephen Padget. Also valuable is Deutschlands neue Aussenpolitik , edited by Karl Kaiser and Hanns W. Maull. Stephen F. Szabo's concise The Diplomacy of German Unification provides examinations of the unification process. Authoritative fuller accounts of unification are Beyond the Wall by Elizabeth Pond and Germany Unified and Europe Transformed by Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice.

For an analysis of public opinion data from united Germany, see the Rand Corporation's study conducted by Ronald A. Asmus, Germany in Transition . On United States-German relations, see W.R. Smyser's Germany and America . Also valuable is Daniel Hamilton's Beyond Bonn , which offers a critical survey of issues relating directly to United States-German bilateral relations. For an examination of Franco-German relations, see Philip H. Gordon's France, Germany, and the Western Alliance . The Germans and Their Neighbors , edited by Dirk Verheyen and Christian Se, provides chapter-length surveys of Germany's bilateral relations with nearly a score of European countries and with the United States.

A number of articles also offer excellent overviews of German foreign policy: Angela Stent's "The One Germany," Elizabeth Pond's "Germany in the New Europe," and Reinhard Stuth's "Germany's New Role in a Changing Europe." Two essays published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University bear particular note as well: Burkhard Koch's Germany: New Assertiveness in International Relations Between Reality and Misperception, and L.H. Gann and Peter Duignan's Germany: Key to a New Continent .

The German Information Center in New York makes available weekly press summaries and important statements and speeches by German government officials. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service's Daily Report: West Europe also provides useful information in translation from sources published or broadcast in Germany. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of August 1995

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