Multilateralism, German Foreign Policy, and Central Europe

By Claus Hofhansel | Go to book overview

2

German multilateralism in East and West

The West German multilateralist tradition rested primarily on West German policies toward NATO and the European Community which anchored West Germany in the West. Here it is important to remember that in 1949 the Federal Republic was not a sovereign or even a semisovereign state but an occupied country. Only with the entry of the Federal Republic into NATO in 1955 did it regain some measure of sovereignty. 1 Symbolically, this was shown by the fact that on May 1, 1955 the West German diplomatic missions in Washington, London and Paris were turned into embassies. Put differently, West Germany tied itself to multilateral organizations, such as NATO, and thus accepted restraints on sovereignty in order to regain sovereignty. At the same time West Germany joined the West European Union and accepted various limitations on its military capabilities. Most importantly West Germany agreed not to manufacture nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on German soil and thus reassured its European partners that they would not have to fear German military might again. Similar arguments help explain West German support in 1957 for the Treaties of Rome, the founding documents of the European Community. European integration policy helped “to bring West Germany's economy back into the world market, to have a security guarantee against … tendencies towards neutralization of Germany and to ensure a military coalition of the Western states with West Germany against the danger of Soviet expansionism.” 2

Over time the purposes served by German integration into Western multilateral organizations shifted. More specifically, in the 1960s and 1970s the EC proved useful for West German foreign policy toward a variety of regions outside of Western Europe. Writing in the late 1970s Ernst-Otto Czempiel noted that “[a]s a European Economic Community member, Germany could and can appear in areas of the world where it has not been present before, and where it would perhaps not be welcome as the West German national state, ” such as Southeast Asia. 3 In regard to relations with Eastern Europe, integration into the EC, and coordination of member state foreign policies within the so-called European Political Cooperation in particular, served three purposes. First, domestically, it reassured the

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