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We must abandon idea of Westernizing the world – German President

Germany’s president calls for new, realistic foreign policy in relations with China, Russia, regional powers. Germany’s president on Friday called on Western powers to abandon the idea of “Westernizing the world” and adopt a new, realistic foreign policy in relations with China, Russia and regional powers.

In a major foreign policy speech he delivered at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Western countries have had overestimated themselves by expecting democratic ideals to flourish around the globe in a post-Cold War world.

“We, Germany, and we, the West, cannot shape the world in our own image. And so we must not overburden our foreign policy with the expectation that it will bring salvation,” he said, arguing that “morally guided positions” do not always help achieving foreign policy goals such as preventing wars and create a more peaceful world.

“Europe, and Germany in particular, would do well to take a less missionary approach to the world. Our political agenda does not include Westernizing the world,” Steinmeier stressed, adding that Western countries need a different and better relationship with rivals like Russia, which should not be restricted merely to condemnatory statements and sanctions.

The prominent Social Democrat politician, who served as foreign minister between 2005 and 2009, and between 2013 and 2016, argued that such a realistic foreign policy would not mean Western countries would abandon their democratic ideals.

“We cannot and must not abandon the normative project of creating a world which makes the dignity of the individual,” he said.

“It is an open project, without geographical borders, without skin colour. If we ourselves keep it alive, if we can once again breathe life into our ideas and institutions, then it will have an impact and set an example far beyond our own borders,” he added.

Munich Security Conference, the world’s biggest security conference, is bringing together political and military leaders from all over the world in Munich on Feb. 14-16.

More than 35 heads of government and state, around 100 foreign and defense ministers are attending the conference.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary for Defense Mark Esper, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will be among the participants.

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