Germany should play bigger role in world: president
German President Joachim Gauck opened an international security meeting Friday with an appeal for his country to play a greater role on the world stage and in tackling global trouble spots.
"Germany should engage as a good partner earlier, more decisively and more substantially," he told hundreds of political, diplomatic and defence leaders at the Munich Security Conference (MSC).
The annual meeting of the global "strategic community" was set to deal with thorny international issues, from the Syrian war and Ukraine's turmoil to Iran's nuclear programme and US online surveillance.
The high-powered guest list at the meeting includes UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, some 20 heads of state and government, 10 leaders of international organisation, five EU commissioners and many military analysts.
Host country Germany, the EU's biggest economy, has long stuck to an approach of "military restraint" and been criticised for not playing a military role that matches its economic and political weight.
Gauck in his opening address asked "are we doing what we can to stabilise our neighbourhood, in the east and in Africa? Are we doing what we should to counter the dangers of terrorism?
"And if we find compelling reasons to engage militarily together with our allies, are we then ready to fairly share the risks with them?" added Gauck, the head of state, seen as a moral authority in Germany.
"What role do we want to play in crises in distant parts of the world? Are we sufficiently engaged in an area where Germany has developed competence, in conflict prevention?
"I say: Germany should engage as a good partner earlier, more decisively and more substantially."
Germany's military role will feed into a wider debate on transatlantic security cooperation at the 50th edition of the MSC, an event first launched in the Cold War.
One of the key concerns for Europe is the future role of the United States, which has guaranteed regional security since World War II but which has increasingly switched its focus to Asia.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel were Saturday to address US-European ties but their presence has in part been overshadowed by the NSA surveillance scandal.
Kerry acknowledged Friday in Berlin that relations with Germany had gone through a "rough period" of late over NSA snooping but that shared security priorities would keep the countries close.
© 2014 AFP