The first long trip abroad of his second term in office takes Federal President Steinmeier to Singapore and Indonesia. This is no coincidence, as he emphasizes. He has the problems from Europe with him.

Before the start of his visit to Singapore and Indonesia, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasized the importance of both countries for Germany and Europe.

“Singapore and Indonesia are close and reliable partners of Germany and Europe,” he told the German Press Agency. “Like us, they strive for fair, rule-based trade and are involved in international bodies. And you have clearly positioned yourself on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Starting this Tuesday, Steinmeier will first visit Singapore and then Indonesia for two days each. It is his first major trip in his second term. “I deliberately chose the Indo-Pacific for my first long journey: a region that is important for world trade and at the same time is under pressure in terms of security policy, especially in view of an increasingly authoritarian China.”

Indonesia has G20 presidency

Indonesia currently chairs the group of 20 leading industrialized and emerging countries (G20), Germany the G7 chair. The federal government invited the state to the G7 summit at the end of June in Elmau, Bavaria. In the capital, Jakarta, Steinmeier will meet President Joko Widodo, among others. Before that, he wants to speak to President Halimah Yacob, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in Singapore.

Steinmeier said he wanted to discuss with his partners there how to deal with the growing political, military and ideological tensions of our time. “What does this epochal break mean for the international order, for economic globalization, for our networked economies?”

Steinmeier: “Rethink globalization”

Steinmeier sees no alternative to globalization – despite Germany’s problematic high energy dependency on Russia or the close economic ties with China, which are increasingly seen as a risk. “We should rethink globalization, but not think away from it,” he said. Openness and exchange remained the basis of German prosperity. “We have to learn to price political risks more into economic decisions – not only in energy relationships, but also in raw materials, primary and intermediate products, supply chains and location decisions. The goal should be: expand networking, reduce vulnerability.”

Indonesia, as chair of the G20, and Germany, as chair of the G7, bear particular responsibility for international cooperation this year. “Trade and investment, energy transition, food security and sustainability – these are issues where we can achieve a lot together.”

«Not interested in block formation»

Steinmeier said Russia and China positioned themselves as authoritarian rivals of liberal democracies. «We have to advertise for new partnerships. We have no interest in forming a new block in the world.” Rather, bloc formation contradicts the basic idea of ​​democracy. «Democracy is an open project – without direction, without geographical borders, without skin color. We should try all the more for countries like Indonesia.”

The consequences of the Ukraine war are also clearly being felt in countries like Indonesia. Gasoline prices have risen sharply, and cooking oil prices have doubled in recent months. The government has just announced a significant increase in electricity prices. Other countries in the Indo-Pacific such as Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia are also affected by the drastic price increases. It is the poorer people in these countries who suffer from it.

The last Federal President to visit Singapore was – in November 2017 – Steinmeier himself. Christian Wulff was the German head of state in Indonesia for the last time in December 2011.