What German Responsibility Means

In: Security and Human Rights
Hanns W. Maull Senior Distinguished Fellow, swp, Berlin; Adjunct Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center,

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“Responsibility” has long been a key political concept in German foreign policy since 1949. It reflects the shadow cast by Germany over Europe during the first half of the last century, and therefore implies a determination to pursue, at home and abroad, policies that are diametrically opposed to those pursued by Berlin under Emperor Wilhelm ii and Nazi Germany. In today’s context, German foreign policy “responsibility” has to deal with the breakdown of the pan-European order of Paris. The article argues that Berlin against this background should assume a leadership role within the osce along three major lines: new initiatives to launch co-operative security policies; long-term energy co-operation; and co-operative efforts to enhance the very fragile foundations of governance throughout Eastern Europe.

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