Common action in the area of foreign and security policy

Nov 10, 2016

On November 15 and 16, representatives of different departments from South Africa and Germany will come together for the Binational Commission for the ninth time. Together they will debate about global challenges and intensify cooperation between both nations.

Commission for foreign policy and security

Chancellor Merkel recently inaugurated the ''Julius Nyerere Peace and Security Building'' in Ethiopia Enlarge image Chancellor Merkel recently inaugurated the ''Julius Nyerere Peace and Security Building'' in Ethiopia (© Bundesregierung/Steins) Next to bilateral questions, EU-Africa relations and international crisis, the topic of migration will be of great importance on the agenda of the commission for foreign policy and security. Germany and South Africa share a common strategic interest to overcome causes of flight and thereby reduce streams of illegal migration to Europe and Southern Africa. These include civil wars and threats of terrorism, as well as combatting poverty, drought and organized crime. Both countries can learn from each other’s experiences and profit form a common problem analysis.

Merkel pleads for more cooperation

In her address at the African Union on October 11, 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of further cooperation with regard to global challenges: “We cannot and must not accept that smugglers play with the lives of others. Human trafficking must stop. Far too many people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea already.” Especially young people often set off to Europe with completely wrong expectations. They go on a life-threatening journey without knowing what to expect when they arrive in Germany and whether they are allowed to stay.

African migrants on their dangerous way to Europe Enlarge image African migrants on their dangerous way to Europe (© picture-alliance/dpa) Most of the migration streams, however, are within Africa itself. Ethiopia for example just provided cover for about 700,000 refugees. Amongst the other African countries, South Africa can be compared to Germany’s role in Europe. 

Due to its economic strength, political stability, and a progressive constitution the rainbow nation functions as a powerful magnet, especially for people from the South African Development Community and the Horn of Africa. Many migrants take on long and dangerous journeys just to find that it is difficult to get integrated into South African society.

To combat causes of flight, it is therefore important to ensure sustainable economic development. “With many natural resources, a growing middle class and a young population, the African continent has great economic potential”, says Merkel. 

Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled to the BNC in South Africa in 2014 Enlarge image Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled to the BNC in South Africa in 2014 (© Ute Grabowsky / An interdisciplinary approach, including security policy, economic aspects and a developmental attempt must be found. Currently, Germany finances extensive humanitarian and developmental projects to support people in need and to minimize causes of flight.

G20 presidency

On December 1 Germany takes over the presidency for the group of the 20 most significant industrialized and emerging countries. At the summit in July next year Germany will to put a special focus on the African continent. Since South Africa is the only African country attending the G20 the Rainbow Nation will take over an important role. Accordingly, main topics of the Africa summit will be discussed during the Binational Commission already so that a new initiative for Africa can be established next year.

© German Embassy Pretoria

Binational Commission 2016: Foreign and Security Policy

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