Germany to send warship to patrol Indian Ocean
Germany’s defence minister announced one of the country’s warships will patrol the Indian Ocean as part of plans to manage China’s influence in the region even as foreign secretary Harsh Shringla held talks in Berlin on Monday to boost cooperation in areas ranging from post-pandemic recovery to the Indo-Pacific.
Shringla, who held back-to-back meetings in Berlin with his German counterpart Miguel Berger, other senior officials and representatives of think tanks, highlighted the scope of working together for trade and investment, creation of diversified supply changes and counter-terrorism.
Ahead of Shringla’s arrival in Berlin as part of a three-nation tour, German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told The Sydney Morning Herald that a German frigate is set to patrol the Indian Ocean next year and the country’s naval presence in the Indo-Pacific will help safeguard the rules-based order. “We hope to be able to deploy next year,” she said.
“We will be spending more on defence in 2021 than in 2020 despite the fact that [the Covid-19 pandemic] has hit our budgets. Now the key is to translate this into real muscle.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer said Germany is working within NATO to expand relations with like-minded states such as Australia. “I am convinced territorial disputes, violations of international law and China’s ambitions for global supremacy can only be approached multilaterally,” she said. These moves come close on the heels of Germany unveiling its Indo-Pacific policy in September, when foreign minister Heiko Maas said latent conflicts in the region “would have global repercussions were they to erupt”.
Shringla told his German government interlocutors that India has faced multiple challenges in recent months because of the pandemic, “tensions on our northern border and the ever-present menace of terrorism on our western border”.
India has noted that Germany’s Indo-Pacific guidelines recognise the need to diversify supply chains, and both countries have a “clear convergence of interest in this area”, he said.
Sameer Patil, fellow for international security studies at Gateway House, said Germany’s focus on the Indo-Pacific is a natural extension of its commercial and strategic interests, and the activities of its partners such as France in the region. “Germany is one of the most powerful military players in the European Union after the exit of the UK and key European players are realising the importance of the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
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