News Overview 2015

The Indian Ocean - International Conference with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier

It is the world’s third-largest ocean - and a region of unique geostrategic importance, with the trade routes in the Indian Ocean linking burgeoning port cities in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia with Europe and America. What is more, while its waters boast large reserves of oil, gas, and deep-sea minerals, the countries located around its rim have numerous challenges in common. Climate change, dramatic population growth, rapid urbanization, and political instability are all making their mark on the region.

On June 9, representatives from the worlds of politics, business, science, and civil society in the Indian Ocean region - as well as many of their counterparts from China, the US, and Europe - came together in Berlin for a conference entitled "The Indian Ocean - A Maritime Region on the Rise." The event was organized by the German Federal Foreign Office in conjunction with the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung, and the guests - who formed various panels - explored a range of questions: What interests are being pursued by individual players in the region?, How can cooperation be achieved in terms of foreign and economic policy?, How can violent conflicts be avoided?

"The challenges for the Indian Ocean region are huge - and they can only be overcome by working together," said Dr. Ingrid Hamm, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, in her opening remarks. "This conference, entitled The Indian Ocean, brings together representatives from countries in the region, such as India, Mozambique, Yemen, and Australia and allows them to communicate with each other directly and in person. We view this as a fantastic opportunity to build greater trust and understanding in this part of the world."

Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who welcomed the guests at the Federal Foreign Office, made the following remarks: "There is a fine line between opportunity and risk, whether in terms of the sustainable and political development of the countries in the region or in terms of maritime security and climate change. One thing is essential in all these issues: cooperation. This is the watchword and should guide both our relations to these nations and the alliances they maintain with each other. In order to foster this spirit of cooperation, we are bringing together key players from the fields of politics, business, science, and civil society - just as you would expect from a forward-looking foreign policy."

The guests at the Foreign Office included Madagascan Foreign Minister Béatrice Atallah and Yemeni Information Minister Nadia Al Saqqaf. They were joined on the podium by Robert Bosch Senior Fellow Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller and Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow Professor Brahma Chellaney, with the panels debating such issues as the networking of maritime security, the revival of trade on the Indian Ocean, and the current crisis in Yemen.