“No.” There are no military options for Europe in Africa, stated Germany’s Development Minister, rebuffing French calls for greater Bundeswehr involvement. Instead, Gerd Müller believes development policy should be the top priority. EurActiv Germany reports.
“No development funds for military interventions, weapons and materials from the European Development Fund,” German Development Minister Gerd Müller emphasised in an interview on Sunday (30 March).
Müller is calling for a strict division between financing for development cooperation and security policy. “That would be an attack on Europe’s development policy,” the development minister said firmly.
There are no military options for Europe in Africa, Minister Müller is convinced. Reconstruction, water, infrastructure or housing and settlement for refugees are not tasks of the military.
“We must move from networked security to networked development,” said Müller, referring to the term “networked security” coined by the former German government. The concept is based on the idea that security should not be understood as a purely military task, but also a civilian one.
Müller’s “networked development”, on the other hand, would include three components: (1) Security and stability in a country, (2) securing people’s livelihoods and (3) defining the future.
The conservative politician calls for a “European crisis reaction concept with a police component and law-enforcement”, which should also include a technical component for building infrastructure and an aid component in cooperation with NGOs.
At first glance, this approach is similar to the old idea of networked security. But Müller intends to transfer greater security responsibility to regional partners.
“We should not overestimate our military influence in Africa,” a new strategy paper from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) said, explaining the Africa policy. “Tried and tested diplomatic and development policy instruments must be given priority.”
For this reason, Müller supports Chancellor Angela Merkel’s proposal for a “toughening initiative” to help the African Union development its own self-help measures in the face of civil war and crises in Africa.
But experts at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) recently criticised the initiative, saying that it will hardly be able to produce results in already conflict-ridden areas.
No combat mission for Germany
In the run-up to the two-day EU-Africa Summit in Brussels on Wednesday (2 April), Müller’s words are a clear rejection of demands from France. Germany’s neighbour hopes for greater military involvement in Africa from Europe, but also particularly from the German Bundeswehr.
The development minister’s views differ from those of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Ever since the Munich Security Conference, the two have been calling for a stronger foreign policy role for the Federal Republic, including a military dimension.
At a conference on troop levels over the weekend, the EU announced sending roughly 1,000 soldiers to the Central African Republic. The purpose of this initiative is to support an estimated 6,000 African, and 2,000 French soldiers, already on the ground, in stabilising the country.
The exact composition of troops is set to be determined at a special meeting on the periphery of the EU-Africa Summit. The German government has held out the prospect of sending one air ambulance, two Antonov (AN-124) transport planes and 10 soldiers. But there will be no combat mission for German soldiers, the government said.
European Union countries have agreed on sending up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilise the Central African Republic.
The decision, taken by the EU’s 28 foreign ministers on 20 January, marked the EU's first land operation since it sent a force to eastern Chad and northeastern Central African Republic in 2008 as part of regional efforts to deal with the Darfur crisis in Sudan.
Diplomats said the EU force could start arriving in Central African Republic by the end of February.
The EU has 7,000 staff deployed around the world on 12 civilian missions and four military operations, including combating piracy off Somalia and training the Malian army.