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Andrey Kortunov

Ph.D. in History, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

In my view, the most valuable feature of German foreign policy is its firm commitment to the fundamental principle of multilateralism. It is particularly important today, when many international players including great powers explicitly or implicitly challenge this principle and shift to unilateralism and nationalism in dealing with their adversaries and partners alike. Thirty years ago, to stick to multilateralism meant to float with the tide, these days it means to hold back the tide. Multilateralism requires much more resilience, stamina, and faith in 2020 than it required back in 2000.

In my view, the most valuable feature of German foreign policy is its firm commitment to the fundamental principle of multilateralism. It is particularly important today, when many international players including great powers explicitly or implicitly challenge this principle and shift to unilateralism and nationalism in dealing with their adversaries and partners alike. Thirty years ago, to stick to multilateralism meant to float with the tide, these days it means to hold back the tide. Multilateralism requires much more resilience, stamina, and faith in 2020 than it required back in 2000.

The true value of any principle is defined by how much you are willing to pay for it. Multilateralism might make German foreign policy less innovative or it might slow down German responses to various international challenges and crises. Moreover, numerous critics often perceive it as a sign of Germany’s weakness, lack of imagination or its reluctance to take a leadership role in world politics. I can even imagine that for some Germans, the outcomes of their continuous attachment to multilateralism sometimes becomes a source of frustrations and disappointments. Even more frustrations and disappointments are still in the pipeline for Germany.

However, multilateralism is the only way to provide for stability, security, and sustainable development at regional and global levels. In this sense, Germany remains an indispensable role model and a foreign policy lab for many other nations and states. I can only hope that Berlin will stay committed to multilateralism and that Washington, Beijing, and Moscow will learn more from the German experience in future than they do now.

Source: Munich Security Conference.

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