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“No shirking”

Heiko Maas is the new German Federal Foreign Minister. The SPD politician emphasises Germany’s growing responsibility in the world.

Außenminister: Heiko Maas tritt sein neues Amt an
© dpa

Germany. In his inaugural speech, the new German Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized Germany’s growing responsibility in the world. No one needs German foreign policy that overestimates its own reach, the SPD politician said at the inaugural ceremony at the German Federal Foreign Office. “But in this global situation, foreign policy which shirks its duties is just as wrong, and possibly even more dangerous,” he continued.

The open society offers the best basis for peace, human rights, prosperity, and development.
Heiko Maas, German Federal Foreign Minister

He went on to suggest there was “a rift between those who championed a cosmopolitan approach, and those who wanted a return to isolation and nationalism”. This rift would also define German foreign policy over the next few years. That said, one thing was clear: “The open society is still the best basis for peace, human rights, prosperity, and development.” Nor can one shy away from discussion if these basic values are questioned in the European Union, he continued. 

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In his inaugural speech Maas highlighted the German candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council for two years from January 2019. The responsibility for security policy was a core task of foreign policy, he said. The decision is expected in spring. Germany is a candidate for one of the ten seats on the Security Council that are only held temporarily. There are five permanent veto powers on the UN’s most important body: USA, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France.

Heiko Maas was born in 1966 in Saarlouis. He studied Law, later becoming a State Secretary and then head of the Ministry of the Environment in the Saarland. From 2012 to 2013 he was Minister of Economic Affairs there, before moving to Berlin. From 2013 until 2018 he held the office of Federal Minister of Justice in the last cabinet.

Maas is the seventh Foreign Minister to head the German Federal Foreign Office since reunification. He takes over from Sigmar Gabriel.