Report of Talk Programme on Geostrategic Shift
in Asia: Response of German Security and Foreign Policy
Organized by the Institute of Foreign Affairs
(IFA)and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
15 February 2013 Kathmandu, Nepal
A talk programme was organized in Kathmandu
by the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) in cooperation with
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal on "Geostrategic Shift
in Asia: Response of German Security and Foreign Policy"
on February 15, 2013. Three Members of Parliament of Germany-
Hon. Mr Johannes Pflug, Member of Parliament (Bundestag),
Member of Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Hon.
Ms Karin Evers-Meyer, Member of Parliament (Bundestag), Member
of Defence Committee and Budget Committee, and Hon. Mr Holger
Ortel, Member of Parliament, Committee on Food, Agriculture
& Consumer Protection took part in the talk programme. The
programme was chaired by Prof.
Dr. Sridhar K. Khatri, former
Executive Director, Institute of Foreign Affairs.
The talk programme began with the welcome
remarks made by Mr Khus Narayan Shrestha, Officiating
Executive Director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs. Mr Shrestha
stated that "global power has been shifting to Asia with
the beginning of the twenty-first century". He elaborated
the statement by saying that China has emerged as an economic
power and with that its ability has increased to restrict the
US's role in the Western Pacific region. He also mentioned that
the response of the US to the rising power of China was reflected
in the last year's statement of the US President Barak Obama
in which he laid emphasis on US focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
He was of the view that Nepal could not remain in isolation
when shift of global power to her neighbourhood was taking place.
Thereafter, Prof. Khatri, as the Chairperson
of the talk programme, welcomed the Members of German Parliament
and the participants to the programme. He also mentioned about
the emerging powers of today with special reference to the new
block of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
and stated that in Nepal people are trying to figure out the
possible implication on Nepal of the growing powers of China
and India. Having made his introductory remarks, the Chairperson
invited Mr Johannes Pflug to make presentation on the theme
of the talk programme.
Hon. Mr Pflug commenced his presentation
by saying that Germany was not interested in Asian affairs until
2001. "After the 9/11 terrorist attack of 2001 on the US,
Germany was requested to take part in military action against
the terrorists in Afghanistan", he said. "We showed
our solidarity with the US, as we wanted South Asia to be stabilized.
Afghanistan is still in problems. There is increased insecurity
in South Asia: India is a nuclear power, and Pakistan also has
more than 50 nuclear weapons", he further said.
Mr Pflug highlighted the problems faced
by the people of North Korea by saying that they are revolting
against the government. He also touched upon the problem of
Kashmir, while mentioning that "Asia is a huge region".
Mr Pflug was of the view that China
was on its way to becoming the second superpower of the world.
"China has also realized its duty as a superpower",
he said. He further said that given the rising power of China
"The US is surrounding China. It has concluded agreements
with Myanmar, pushing China-Myanmar relations back. Its bilateral
relations with Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan have been enhanced.
It has strategic relations with Japan and South Korea".
In his statement, Mr Pflug expressed the view that though the
US will remain in Afghanistan for some time, its direction will
be towards China and the Asia-Pacific region, as it has added
six aircraft carriers and 60 percent of its marine forces in
While touching upon North Korea's recent
nuclear test, Mr Pflug saw the danger of it along with the possibility
of huge refugee outflux from North Korea into China. He viewed
that conflict would continue with mistrust in between Beijing
and Pyongyang. "Reform is unlikely under the new leader
in North Korea", he mentioned, "China will have to
further pressurize Pyongyang, which has been not been enough
at present". He suggested for a puppet government in North
Korea supported by Beijing.
After the conclusion of the statement
of Mr Pflug, Hon. Ms Karin Evers-Meyer was invited by the chair
to speak. During her speech, she made succinct remarks. She
began her statement by stating that Asia had a unique character.
She unfolded the policy of Germany which appreciated different
cultures, languages, views, religions, and ways of life. She
expressed the view that "Germany makes its weight felt
for peace and a trustworthy partner." "In the current
international scenario, the US demands more responsibility and
a larger share of burden from Germany", she said. She continued,
"Germany does not sense pressure from the US and from any
country." On military engagement, she mentioned that the
UN mandate is the ground for it.
On conclusion of the statement of Mr
Johannes Pflug and Hon. Ms Karin Evers-Meyer, the Chairperson
Prof. KLhatri summerized the ideas expressed by the speakers.
He said that "Europe is rebalancing the power in the new
context though its influence is weakening due to financial crisis".
He was of the view that Asia-Pacific region is currently mired
in conflict over the territory of some islands in the South
China Sea, which needs diplomatic efforts for its prevention.
He also highlighted on the upcoming alliance by saying that
the South East Asian states will be forced to choose between
the US and China. He foresaw the upcoming situation in which
the US would place its priority on the Middle-East and North
Africa and would lose influence in South America whereas Chinese
investment and trade would grow in Latin America. He advised
Berlin to play a proactive role and not to wait for policy decisions
from Brussels. "There should be a right balance between
hard and soft power and between regional and global institutions",
he stated. Having said this, he opened the floor for questions
and answers. A number of questions were raised by the participants
Mr Rajan Bhattarai: How do you
see the shifting balance of power? Powerful countries do not
want to lose and emerging powers want share of it. What's Europe's
role? China is rising, but there are flashpoints around its
borders. What's Europe's response to it?
S.P. Upadhyaya: You wish to be
with the Afghan people but not with President Hamid Karzai.
Ms Sherpa: What'll Germany do
to persuade the US not to contain China? What'll EU and Germany
do to address the Indo-Pak conflict?
Deepak Gajurel: What's the future
of EU? A US publication of this year gives a gloomy picture
of it. If Europe weakens, what'll be the relations between Europe
and Euroasia and Himalasia?
Kul Chandra Gautam: Germany is
already working as a de facto member of the Security Council.
Will it play independently or as a second fidder of the US?
Lal Bahadur Yadav: What's the
role of Germany and EU in Nepal being the victim of geopolitical
situation. How do you overcome terrorism, security threats and
human rights abuses?
Bhekh Bahadur Thapa: The history
of world after the twentieth century has witnessed three waves.
The first wave was the drive for reconstruction of Europe after
the Second World War. The second wave was the fall of Berlin
Wall. And the third wave is the wave of today in which multiple
centres of influence have been created. In this period, how
do we restructure the old institutions and have balance of power?
Prem: What'd be the future of
the Philippinos and Malaysians when the US comes to that region?
Binod Bist: You said Kashmir
can wait and the Indo-Pak relations can continue. Is it EU's
Ibrahim Gaffuri: The Arab spring
was a major event for change in the Arab world. The US's response
was quick for Libya's political change. But in Syria no one
from the West has intervened. What's your view on Syria? In
Bahrain the minority Sunnis are ruling. Why is there no voice
from the Western countries for the majorities?
Gopal Pokhrel: By 2016 China
is going to be the superpower. China has adopted the mixed economy.
It is undergoing a democratic change. There is the feeling in
Nepal that China does not intervene in Nepal's internal affairs.
Mr Johannes Pflug responded to the questions
part by part after receiving them in different parts. He acknowledged
China as a rising power. He told that China's main policy was
focused on its neighbours for security and energy without interfering
into their internal affairs. "Though China's economic growth
is slowing, it is investing in Asia, Africa and East Asia",
he said. He warned that China may become a dangerous country
as it has been applying repressive measures against its people
involved in over 12,000 conflicts inside the country. He suggested
that the international community should persuade China to adopt
inner state democracy.
On EU's policy towards external world,
Mr Pflug categorically said that "EU has failed in articulating
common foreign and security policy". According to him,
it was because the politics in the member countries has become
national. He suggested that focus on national interest by member
countries should change in order to make EU a counter-balance
to the US. But EU doesn't want to be that, he said. "EU
wants to be a partner and a facilitator. EU also wants to be
a partner for Asia".
About the role of Germany in global
power game, he stated that "Germany can not be a political
power; it may be an economic power. We can be a moderate power
between several powers. In the past, Germany played the role
of a facilitator". He informed the gathering that even
in Germany, there are different voices as to whether Germany
should be a permanent member of the Security Council. Expressing
his own view, he said "Germany should seek permanent membership
of the Security Council". Germany's aim, according to him,
was to foster regional security and development.
Responding to the question relating
to Afghanistan, he was of the view that Afghanistan needed free
and fair election. He also mentioned that Germany will support
Afghanistan if request is made from that country.
While touching upon the political situation
in Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, Mr JPflug stated that all three
countries are under democratic exercises. He expressed the view
that the three countries of South Asia can work together for
regional security and deal with their neighbours-India and China.
He stressed that dialogue has to continue for resolving the
Indo-Pak dispute on Kashmir.
Mr Pflug was for the reform of the UN.
He said that veto powers were against the expected reform of
the international institution. He opined that small countries
have to continue pressurizing the powerful countries for UN
reform for which regional associations like SAARC and ASEAN
could be important players. He pledged EU's cooperation for
On the role of the Western countries in the political changes
in the Gulf region, he was of the view that democracy should
be established not only in Bahrain but also in Saudi Arabia.
He alleged that the US is not for democracy in those countries.
He also spoke for transparency in financial flows.
"Russia is trying to regain its
power", Mr Pflug stated. He further stated that EU needs
Russia as a partner for which dialogue is going on. While expressing
his views on the situation in the Middle-East, he said that
occupation of Gaza by Israel should be condemned. "Behind
Syrian government is Iran; and Saudi Arabia is backing Hamas",
On questions relating to EU's role in Nepal, he said, "We're
no missioneries in Nepal. You've to request your political parties
for solution to political problems".
After the completion of the question-answer
session, the Chairperson Prof. Khatri made the concluding remarks.
He said that global rivalry for getting raw materials from Africa
and Latin America is going on. While seeing danger in the rapidly
changing world, he presented himself unsure as to whether India
will balance China given the absence of such policy in India's
national security doctrine and the policy of Non-alignment 2.0.
He was of the view that China and India both need to fix their
governance system in view of their rising global profile. He
however expressed doubt as to whether the two countries would
be able to continue their economic growth and development in
the same pace as done in the past. He believed in EU's large
degree of credibility due to its policy on democracy and human
rights. He then declared the session concluded.