Mr. Heusgen, in the Bundestag, the Union has just accused the federal government of failure, since the discussion about the first national security strategy “was completely out of time and determined by departmental egoism”. Is that correct?
To be fair, no such strategy has ever been written in the 16 years under Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the beginning, as your foreign and security policy adviser, I was very much influenced by my previous work with the then EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. Under this I had worked on the first European security strategy. At the time, Joschka Fischer was foreign minister and confidently argued that a national strategy made no sense because security could only be guaranteed within a European framework. We also had the white papers from the Federal Ministry of Defense and it was difficult enough to get them together. So on the agenda of the Merkel governments were neither a security strategy nor the establishment of a national security council with a national security adviser. But the new federal government had included a national security strategy in the coalition agreement – and times are different now after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
You were in the Chancellery for twelve years, then ambassador to the United Nations and now you are in charge of the Munich Security Conference. How do you perceive the debate about the safety strategy that the traffic light wants to develop?
It will certainly succeed in describing the changed environment of German politics in an excellent way. But that is not enough. It is important to draw operational conclusions from this. We have many rigidities in foreign, development and security policy, and it is difficult to break them open. But if not now, then when?
The security strategy was not presented at the Munich Security Conference, and everything indicates that it won’t be until May at the earliest – but one thing is already clear: a National Security Council will not be introduced. So is the paper already a disappointment?
Knowing full well that it would be incredibly difficult, I still wished that we would now have a National Security Council. I’m not disappointed, I just thought that under the impression of the current situation, the Chancellery and the Federal Foreign Office would come to an agreement and that the Federal Foreign Office, which ultimately has the lead in developing the security strategy, would take this path. Instead, the fear seems to have prevailed again that a Security Council would shift even more powers to the chancellor’s office. A missed opportunity.
What difference would a Security Council make in the current situation?