Remarks at the Munich Security Conference Panel Discussion

MODERATOR: To conclude the first half of our morning session, we are now turning to a new kind of troika. There have been different troikas in the past. And since we are pressed for time, I will not spend a long time with introducing this group of three eminent foreign ministers. I would simply like to invite Frank-Walter Steinmeier, John Kerry, and Laurent Fabius to take their seats up here on the stage if they could.

And the rules of the game are that we are going to listen to three introductory statements. I hope that those will be brief. The briefer they are, they more time we’ll have for discussion with a group that really wants to have a discussion with all of you. But before I start in this order – first Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then John Kerry, and then finally, I think, Laurent Fabius – I would like to congratulate John Kerry for having just been made a grandfather. Congratulations. (Applause.) And with that, Mr. Minister, why don’t you start us off?

FOREIGN MINISTER STEINMEIER: (Via interpreter) Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, when foreign policy, if foreign policy is in the band, it rarely is a good sign for the state of the world. The state of the world – and this is also illustrated by debates here in plenary and the many talks I hold at the sidelines – the state of the world is worrying, indeed. Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Islamist terrorist, hybrid warfare – these are the buzzwords that we’ve been dealing with here. And the question of war and peace has returned to the European continent.

And I believe, in such a situation, states who have the capacities cannot refrain from these debates or stay out of the game when we struggle to find solutions. This is why I said at this conference last year Germany is willing to engage more in foreign policy. But let me also say this was put to the test much sooner and much more severely than we could have fathomed last year.

I believe that we did not shy away from this plus in responsibility. We did not shy away in a time where we held a debate in Germany, triggered by last year’s security conference. We held a very intense and public and very controversial debate in Germany about Germany’s role in the world.

This debate, ladies and gentlemen, is ever more important when I see that 70 percent of Germans are skeptical whether this plus in responsibility is beneficial for our country. Possibly many people hope that staying and remaining on the sidelines would protect us from the adversities and hardships of the world. Colleagues, you know that I’m not the only foreign minister that is confronting the skepticism in our own country, but I am firmly convinced that we have to have this debate openly, because conflicts that are far away, that we don’t have to do anything with, these conflicts have become very rare. And in my view, the crucial question is not whether we commit ourselves and get engaged, but rather where and how.

My answer is as follows: More responsibility, yes, but not just anyhow, but forward looking and in a persevering manner, proactively but without overestimating our opportunities and means. And also always embedded in a European and international framework, refraining from painting a picture in black and white and giving (inaudible) or sententious answers who help us in our statements, but make solutions so difficult.

This integration of state, civil war, sectarian conflicts are conflicts that result from the time of the confrontation of blocs. These conflicts are numerous in numbers, but they are also very diverse and require differentiated and different approaches when it comes to finding resolutions. And it makes me very skeptical, indeed, when there seemingly are only simple and the same answers to these very complex and different conflicts. This reminds of Paul Watzlawick, who said years ago, if you only have a hammer and hand, any problem looks like a nail. But in foreign policy, we are not only dealing with nails, and this is why we need more and sometimes different tools in our toolbox.

However, we can ask ourselves whether there are reasons for the current chaotic situation around the globe. Is our time characterized by a coincidental accumulation of crises, or do we see the systematic eruption of forces and tensions in a world where structures of order are increasingly losing their formative power, a world which is growing ever closer and closer together, but where contrasts are colliding with ever more speed? We have to acknowledge and recognize the fact this paradoxical interplay of forces is not happening despite but possibly because of globalization, and we have to recognize economic, social, and digital globalization alone do not guarantee political or social rapprochement, let alone a reliable new order. This is the sobering fact and acknowledgement, but it is necessary in order to realistically be able to assess the magnitude of challenges and our options and opportunities at hand.

This is – the conflict in Ukraine is a prime example of this. From the very beginning, we’ve – two critical elements of international order were at stake. On the one hand, we’ve seen – we’ve been seeing the confrontation of a peaceful order that was developed in Europe, based on international law and national sovereignty. On the other hand, the logic of power, politics, and spheres of influences willing to disregard those rules, also by way of use of force – the dangerous path with the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which was supported militarily by Russia. We reacted to these issues in – within the EU and NATO resolutely and decisively. It is now important to contain this conflict and in a second step defuse this conflict in order to gain space for finding political solutions, you’ve heard, as the Chancellor said this as well.

Let me add, this crisis has also provided or confronted us with the question as to how Russia can be integrated into an international order in the future, in the long run. For us Europeans, this conflict still means permanent security in Europe can only be together with and not against Russia. However, this cannot be a unilateral recognition. It has to be clear to Moscow as well that there is only a good future for Russia with Europe, together with Europe, and not against Europe. And I very clearly said it last year, it is also Moscow’s task to define joint and common interests.

We’ve seen little – too little here so far, and you have also heard and listened to my colleague Lavrov and, of course, this didn’t also – was not also conducive to our discussion. We are far away from finding a political solution to the Ukraine conflict after an intense weekend of debate. It is right and important that we weigh carefully options. And some deem supplying weapons to Ukraine to be a very feasible or even necessary path forward, as a way of targeted counter escalation. But I believe it is highly risky and very dangerous and counterproductive, indeed.

As so often in foreign policy, there is no path forward that guarantees success, but I don’t try to find the easy way out, to believe our skepticism is a form of cowardice, or a fact that we’re oblivious to our past and history. Let me ask you, do the alternatives that are on the table right now and are being discussed right now – are they helping us or are they bringing the conflict to the next level of escalation, which brings us ever further away from preventing further victims and finding a way out of the spiral of escalation? Or are we close to a point of no return, where solutions at the negotiating table cannot be found anywhere? And what about unity of Ukraine then? We’re not going for the easy answers. I am firmly convinced that it would be irresponsible to miss the last opportunities, maybe last opportunities, to defuse this conflict. A further escalation and exacerbation of the conflict would be a sure consequence.

We know the region, and this is why we’re so persistent and persevering, despite some disappointment – and I don’t want to hide this from you. In contrast to real life, in diplomacy obstinate persistence can be a virtue indeed. I very much remember one phrase from Henry Kissinger’s most recent work, “World Order.” If we insist to reach the final status quo right away, we risk crises or setbacks. And unfortunately, more often than not, we need a staying power and a broad horizon, no presumably quick fixes and easy answers.

Ladies and gentlemen, when we talk about world order, let me tell you my country is intertwined and interconnected with the world as almost no other country. We depend on an order based on rules and people adhering to these rules. We depend – our security and our prosperity depend on predictable circumstances far beyond our borders. This is why we are lending a contribution to conflict management. We use our clout and our voice to renewing this world order. Let me briefly give you three focal points of ours.

We are going to actively contribute in strengthening international institutions – the European Union, but also we’re focusing on the transatlantic alliance. I think we’ve shown in wealth that we are able to act. And it is not a coincidence that the most important partners are here with me on this panel today. When it comes to investing in international order, this also entails shouldering and assuming more responsibility for the United Nations, which despite all imperfections, are valuable and indispensible indeed.

Secondly, Germany’s going to further continue to intensify its contributions for coming to terms with crises and conflicts. This holds true for the whole spectrum of the conflict cycle, when it comes to preventing mediation, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation. And we also thinking about reviewing to do more within the framework of the United Nations.

And second – and third, Germany has a special responsibility for the security of Europe. We must think beyond the current conflict in east Ukraine. And I’m not referring to going back to the status quo before, but if we succeed in defusing and settling this conflict, then we want to approach the question how do we want to integrate Russia into a European security architecture after trust – there’s no doubt about it – after trust has been lost and where the basis, which is trust, has been lost.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am convinced the defusion of the Ukraine crisis, preventing a new antagonism between East and West, is, in the end, a contribution towards fostering an international order. Because I believe overcoming this conflict and settling this conflict will enable the United Nations to actually fulfill its core tasks of securing peace in all parts of the world. And this is the broader context, why we should not give in to the logic of confrontation, either willingly or out of resignation. We should not give into the logic of confrontation.

In conclusion, let me say, ladies and gentlemen, the Security Conference in Munich has always been a place and a forum for open exchange. We exchange opinions on the future order. Munich, however, is always a workshop, if you will – a forum where we quite tangibly try to find solutions to conflicts. The news agencies have been reporting on the topics that were debated here. Of course, we are not always in agreement, but we share the view that exchange of views and opinions is the best way forward and best opportunity to find the best solutions.

Shouldering responsibility in foreign policy does not mean that we should do the same everywhere. I focus on reform political realities, and what may be right in dealing with conflicts in the Middle East can be wrong in other conflicts in areas. Yes, diplomacy does not work when dealing with ISIS. We have to fight against ISIS. And despite public criticism, I am in favor of supporting the Peshmerga in northern Iraq by way of military equipment and weapons. We’re currently debating the continuation of this form of support, and we want to also provide training and assistance to members of the Iraq army as well.

Questions such as these – we won’t shy away from questions such as these, but we will review the answers to – with regard to the consequences, whether these answers bring us away finding solutions or not. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in foreign policy. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Wolfgang, thank you very much. Frank, thank you for those important thoughts. Laurent, great to be here with you and with everybody. It’s good to be back at the Munich Security Conference, especially this year, when we mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which, of course, led to the start of the new transatlantic partnership and, ultimately, to a new world order.

And a few years after the war, when the North Atlantic Treaty was ratified in the United States and our relationship was cemented, President Harry Truman remarked that, “The more closely that the nations of the Atlantic community can work together for peace, the better for all people, everywhere.”

I think it is fair to say that the decades since then have proven that, borne out that statement. And as our transatlantic relationship has grown both stronger and more expansive, so has democracy, so has prosperity, and so has stability in Europe and in the United States and around the globe.

The reason for that is really simple. Unlike any other partnership in the world – and to some degree, this speaks to what Frank was talking about a few minutes ago, about Germany’s increased role – our partnership is focused not just on regional challenges but on global challenges. Today, for example, even as we concentrate on regional initiatives like improving our energy security and completing the hugely important Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, we and our European partners are also leading – and I mean leading – the responses to global challenges like climate change and Ebola.

But despite the fact that our transatlantic relationship today is as strong and as critical as ever, and I think any legitimate analysis of it will come to that conclusion, there is also no question that we are also in the midst of a defining moment – a defining moment for our partnership. We are facing multiple tests, and today I want to just focus quickly on two of them.

One is taking center stage right here in Europe, and many people have spoken to it in the course of the weekend, and I really just – I’m not going to go into it in detail. Frank just talked about it. The other one has its roots beyond our borders. But both of them test international law; both test multilateral mechanisms; and both test the global world order that we have spent the last 70 years working hard to build and maintain.

The first test is obviously Ukraine. And Vice President Biden outlined in detail – and I think eloquently – yesterday clearly our commitment. So I’m not going to go back through all of it. Suffice it to say that today, Russia is seeking to fundamentally alter the security landscape of Eastern and Central Europe, first through its illegal occupation of Crimea and now through the brazen effort, the overt effort, the indisputable effort to destabilize eastern Ukraine.

This challenge led me to Kyiv not for a first visit, but on Thursday, to meet with President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Foreign Minister Klimkin, and it led Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande to visit Ukraine and then Moscow in pursuit of a plan to de-escalate the situation. Let me assure everybody, there is no division, there is no split. I keep hearing people trying to create one. We are united. We are working closely together. We all agree that this challenge will not end through military force. We are united in our diplomacy. But the longer that it takes, the more the off ramps are avoided, the more we will be forced to raise the costs on Russia and its proxies.

This much I can assure you: No matter what, the United States, France, Germany, and our allies and partners – no matter what, we will stand together in support of Ukraine and in defense of the common understanding that international borders must not, cannot be changed by force, in Europe or anywhere else.

The second major test facing the United States, Europe, and indeed the entire civilized world today is, of course, the rise of violent extremism.

And if we needed more evidence, almost every single week brings new examples of how far the evil of these extremist groups reaches. Daesh’s execution of a captured Jordanian pilot by burning him alive is a new level of depravity. And far from hiding such a despicable act, they posted a video of it for all the world to see. And last week, the UN reported the horrifying ways that Daesh treats even its most vulnerable captives – crucifying children; burying children alive; handpicking mentally challenged children to serve as suicide bombers and kill even more innocent people. This is what we’re up against.

And it’s not just Daesh. I visited Pakistan last month, and soon after the extremists viciously attacked a military school, and Pakistani officials showed me the time-stamped photos of the sequence of the school’s assembly hall before and after that December 16th assault. At first, there were children, as children would be, lined up in their uniforms, sitting in their chairs in this auditorium, innocent faces attentive, listening, watching, waiting for knowledge. Minutes later, the scene changed – brutally and horribly – from a learning center into a killing chamber. Blood everywhere, broken eyeglasses, scattered textbooks, torn jackets, young kids strewn across the floor, lifeless bodies. And on that day, the school’s principal, having been escorted to safety, returned to try to save her students. And when challenged by the assassins, she pointed to the children saying: “I am their mother,” her last words.

When they’d finished their slaughter in the auditorium, they telephoned on cell phones to call back for instructions, and the instructions that came through were, about the soldiers who were closing in, “kill them and then blow yourselves up.”

Let me be clear, there are no grounds of history, religion, ideology, psychology, politics, economic advantage or disadvantage, or personal ambition that justify the murder of children, the kidnapping and rape of teenage girls, or the slaughter of unarmed civilians. These atrocities can never be rationalized; they can never be excused; they must be opposed with every fiber of our being, and they must be stopped. (Applause.)

Now, I need not remind this audience – perhaps of all the audiences in the world and of all the places in the world – that the 20th century was defined by the civilized world’s struggle to develop the rule of law as the alternative to chaos, disorder, and dictatorship. And today, we are witnessing nothing more than a form of criminal anarchy – criminal anarchy – a nihilism which illegitimately claims an ideological and religious foundation. And against this enemy, make no mistake, we are increasingly organizing and fighting back effectively, and we must.

The world cannot and will not cower in the face of this extremism. And the United States and our European partners are helping to lead the fight to defeat it, wherever it exists. And this is clear in the French-led fight against terrorists in the Sahel, which we appreciate enormously. It is clear in the support that Germany, France, and almost all of our European partners have shown for the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and elsewhere. And certainly, it is clear in our shared mission to counter Daesh, a group that directly threatens the peace and stability of every single country in the region and has overtly threatened to take their horrific mission to every corner of the world.

Today, the international coalition that we have built has grown to more than 60 active members, including dozens of allies and partners in Europe, all operating with the shared goal of disrupting, degrading, and destroying – ultimately destroying Daesh.

Since September, our coalition has pursued a carefully crafted, comprehensive strategy to weaken Daesh on multiple fronts. We have launched some 2,000 air strikes, retaken already 700 square kilometers of territory – one-fifth of the populated area that they had controlled. We have deprived the militants of the use of 200 oil and gas facilities that they were using to get their revenue. We’ve disrupted their command structure, undermined its propaganda, taken out half of their senior leadership, squeezed its financing, damaged its supply networks, dispersed its personnel, and forced them to think twice before they move in an open convoy.

We are forcing them to change tactics. Take the events in Kobani. Daesh had captured more than 300 Kurdish villages along the border of Syria with Turkey, including large swaths of Kobani itself. But thanks to diplomatic cooperation among coalition partners, targeted air strikes, and on-the-ground support from Iraqi Kurdish forces, together, we drove Daesh out. They expected an easy victory, and the media was predicting an easy victory only a month or weeks away. Instead, after a costly battle, in which they lost roughly a thousand of their fighters, they were forced to openly acknowledge defeat.

And as Daesh retreats to Syria, we will continue our fight and we will continue to put pressure on the Assad regime because there is no place for a brutal dictator who is a magnet for terrorism and allows those terrorists safe haven.

But we also cannot lose sight – and this is an important part of my message here today. We cannot lose sight of the fact that this effort is only the beginning. We can’t just work to put out the fires that Daesh and other groups are igniting in the region and around the world; we have to actually prevent the ignition of those fires in the first place. That means the fight against violent extremists is not going to be decided on the battlefield. It’s going to be fought and won in classrooms, in workplaces, houses of worship, community centers, urban street corners, and halls of government.

Countries need to adopt laws that crack down on terrorist recruitment. We have to address the intolerance, economic hopelessness, and exclusion in some of our societies. And we have to create alternatives to violent extremism in countries where it is prevalent – alternatives that are as credible, as visible, as empowering, and as broadly available as we can make them.

And if we don’t take these steps, then you can absolutely bet that at this conference or another one like it five years, ten years from now, our successors will be on this same stage, talking about this very same topic. The terror groups may have different acronyms by then, and they may be targeting different countries by then, but if we don’t do what is required now, I can guarantee you that the fundamental challenge of today’s conflict will remain.

So we have to remain deeply committed to this fight, and those not yet committed need to commit to this fight, and we need to be unrelenting. This will be the focus of the international Summit on Countering Violent Extremism that President Obama is hosting in Washington in a week or two.

I want to leave time for questions today obviously, so I’d just make one final point. I think we all need to reflect on the claim that some have made in recent years – even here, this weekend – that the entire international system is somehow unraveling.

My own view is very different. In the course of my travels, I don’t see an unraveling. I see the very opposite. I see nations working together to negotiate new and far-reaching trade pacts, which will contain about 70 percent of the GDP of the planet. I see us working together to bring an end to the Ebola pandemic. I see work to seek a peaceful resolution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. And you just heard from Foreign Minister Zarif. I see us working together to reach an ambitious global compact on climate change, to curb the strife that taunts places like Central African Republic, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Are the times challenging? Yes. Are they different? Yes, of course. But I see countries around the world responding by reducing extreme poverty, by expanding access to primary education, by increasing life expectancies, by fighting back against HIV and AIDS. We’re on the cusp of the first generation to be free from AIDS – children – in history. And we’re improving maternal healthcare, we’re expanding lifespans, we’re aiding child nutrition, we’re growing the middle class in country after country. I don’t think so many countries have enjoyed the prosperity they enjoy today or are reaching for it at any time in human history.

And while I’ve detailed the very real threat that violent extremism poses to us, please don’t forget we have faced far more daunting threats on this planet before and we have prevailed. Statistics show that even with the increased acts of terror that we face today, a smaller percentage of people today are dying violent deaths than at any point in modern history.

And one of the principal reasons we’re achieving this progress is very simple, that we have never been content, any of us here in this Atlantic alliance, to settle for the status quo. The transatlantic nations – all of us – are blessed to be the descendants of innovators, of doers, people who overcame slavery, plagues, global conflicts, depressions, fascism, totalitarianism, the Holocaust. We are the inheritors of an activism, of a tradition that is utterly unafraid of great challenges and, in fact, is most effective when we are put to the test.

So now, it is our turn. The tests that we face today compel us to prepare and plan, to unite, and to insist that our collective future will be uncompromised by the primitive and paranoid ideas of terrorists and thugs, but instead will be built by the universal values of decency and civility and knowledge and reason and rule of law. That is what we stand for together, and I am confident about the future. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. The third speaker is the former prime minister and the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, Monsieur Fabius.

FOREIGN MINISTER FABIUS: Je vais parler en anglais. Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, my dear friends Frank-Walter and John, last year, at the same date, in spite of a common profound expertise, our conference did not really see Ebola, ISIS or Daesh, and the Ukrainian war. It means that we have to be humble in our analysis and forecasts. But it means also that today’s world, which is no longer bipolar nor unipolar, is rather chaotic, violent, and mainly unpredictable. In this chaotic world – I will not comment decisive elements such as Iran, Middle East peace process, Syria, Libya, and other major subjects, and I will only mention, and briefly, four issues: counterterrorism, Africa, Ukraine, and the question of climate disruption.

One, security today means first and foremost international action to combat terrorism. That action needs, as we see it, to be better shared and better adapted. The attacks in France in early January wounded our country, and demonstration of solidarity and friendship erupted around the world and particularly coming from you, ladies and gentlemen, and France was and is extremely touched. But we are obviously not alone in being affected.

In reality, in this combat against terrorism, no one is safe. It is why efforts need to be shared to a greater extent. We all know that the threat is global and that so must the response be. In the face of terrorism, we must resist any temptation to withdraw, for withdrawal is never protection. And we must also resist what I could call international free-rider behavior. We know the cost of inaction and procrastination. Efforts need to be stepped up at EU level, but also, as they are, be shared with the United States, as well as with Muslim countries whose populations are the first victims, and with emerging countries, which have to take the measure of their new responsibilities in the international order by strengthening their engagement.

We need also better adaptation to (inaudible). In this 70th anniversary of UN, in this world where our traditional Westphalian approach is not always sufficient facing terrorist groups, we need to be more active to dismantle their financing, their recruitment networks. We need to strengthen our international efforts, such as the European Passenger Name Record, which will help ensure the traceability of suspects.

We also need to work on means of counterpropaganda and better controlling the greatest vectors of radicalization while respecting our values of freedom. I have in mind particularly propaganda on websites and social media which are spreading the message of jihadi terrorists far and wide.

Second, Africa is obviously a key area for our common security. We need to help Africa resolve its crisis itself. You all know that France is mobilized in Africa. We were in Mali, we are in the Sahel with Operation Barkhane, which deploys 3,000 soldiers to combat terrorism, and in the Central African Republic. We are playing our part – and some say even more than our part – in the resolution of crises in Africa. But in the middle and long term, security can only be ensured in Africa by the Africans themselves, with the support of the whole international community. That is our conviction and message.

We need to encourage and support African capacities to respond to crisis. At political level, the African Union has (inaudible) itself with crisis management tools. Coordination between the African Union, the sub-regional and national forces, and the UN has made progress. Militarily, things are obviously still more complex.

In one of the most concerning conflicts – the fight against Boko Haram, these fake religious and genuine murderers – the Africans have begun to take matters in hand. They could not afford to wait more for others to act. A regional force generated by the African Union is to be created. Neighboring countries are on the front lines. And the rest of the continent, step by step, is organizing support. The international community needs to play its part. This scheme will need to be replicated in the future – an African crisis tackled by African countries themselves, supported by the mobilization of the international community.

Three, European security. Security on the European continent today obviously refers to the Ukraine issue just a few minutes from here. The situation is well known by all of you. I was in Moscow with President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, and President Putin on Friday. We – Germany and France – are currently doing our best with our allies to try and find a solution.

After discussions at length in the Normandy format and discussions taking place today, the key parameters are reasonably clear. For Ukraine, the main point – and it is perfectly legitimate – is to feel safe from military threats from its neighbor, in particular through effective border control, and to remain the master of its own destiny. For Russia, the stated objective seems to be that the people in eastern Ukraine live with a guarantee that their specificities be recognized, in particular by real decentralization or autonomy.

But beyond the current negotiation, there is obviously a larger issue at the heart of Europe. On one side, we have a country with huge military capabilities, one single leader, and which does not act according to the rules of democracy and transparency, nor to the core principles that we have established on our continent since 40 years. And on the other side, we have a gathering of diverse countries which rightly do not see the use of military means as a preferred option and which act in accordance with some fundamental principles such as transparency, democracy, the priority to negotiation, and the rule of law. This explains why this situation is so tough. This means also that we have to stick together, to show our resolve, and to negotiate, but not agree to concessions, which would undermine the key foundation of European security. But that is the time to make a choice. Nobody wants to get trapped in a raging war nobody has interest in, but (inaudible) coming right now.

The last challenge I will mention for our international security is the question of the climate. Why mention the climate? Not only because France will host at the end of this year the COP21, but also because I am convinced that the effects of climate disruption on global security are massive. It undermines development. It causes population displacement. It increases competition for natural resources. It weakens states and fuels conflicts. Climate disruption is not only an environmental issue; it is fundamentally a security issue.

Climate disruption is caused, first and foremost, as you know, by the massive use of fossil fuels. And for the last two centuries, the use of fossil fuels has been a major component of security crises. It has created dependencies, inequalities, rivalry that have sharpened conflicts. Reducing the carbon intensity of economies, developing renewable resources, is therefore a shift towards greater security as it helps to equalizing access to energy. It can reduce tension, inequalities, and dependencies. Many countries seek to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, primarily for energy security and security more generally. And in the Ukrainian conflict, we know that the question of energy is a decisive one. Collectively, how must we respond?

First, we need to reach a universal agreement, placing economies on the path to reduce carbon consumption and keeping the temperature rise below the two-degree limit. That is the whole point of the Paris Climate Conference in December. But the answer is also what is known as adaptation, meaning the provision of immediate assistance to populations whose daily life is impacted by climate disruption so that they are not forced to turn to despair and violence. We want adaptation to have a key place in the agreement we need to reach in Paris.

On that subject, like those other three I mentioned earlier, we need to take action today and not to put it off until tomorrow. My conclusions: A, against terrorism the only response is total resolve and collective (inaudible). B, to solve African crisis, what is urgently needed is everyone’s commitment in support of her African partners. C, In Ukraine, what we must seek right now is not peace on paper, but peace on the ground. And finally, climate disruption is security disruption, and we need to prevent it with the same sense of urgency and resolve.

Ladies and gentlemen, my final conclusion is that, facing that enormous risks, we cannot postpone our answers and we cannot afford to be divided. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Before turning to our, obviously brief, question-and-answer period, I want to thank all three of you for making it possible to come to this forum together on what is probably, in your busy lives, a really busy weekend. So thanks again.

We have already collected a large number of questions. For sake of brevity and speed, I’m not inviting the – those who want to ask questions to ask them from the floor, but we’ve collected them in writing. So we have a tradition of ask – of allowing the first question to be asked by one of the young leaders. But before I call on him, I will put a question to all three of you, which is being asked by none other than Professor Joe Nye of Harvard University, well known to all of you. The question reads as follows: Thus far, the West has stayed united in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Is the issue of providing weapons to Ukraine about to divide us? Question from Joe Nye.

So you have a few minutes to think about this while our young leader will ask his question. This is Joshua Walker, who is a transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund. Go right ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. If I can direct my comment to Secretary Kerry. I really appreciated the optimism that you put out there in the 70 years. The question I would simply ask to you is, when we think about your grandchild coming one day, Lord willing, Insha’Allah, here as a young leader, will we still be talking about the same questions and the challenges? It took a defining moment like World War II to bring us to where we are today. If we’re living in a defining moment that scares me, because every moment in time has ended in war. How do we make sure that doesn’t happen so that your grandchildren, my grandchildren, will not be talking about that? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well it’s – is this on?


SECRETARY KERRY: It’s an entirely – let me tell you I can really relate to your question, because I’ve got a very emotional email from my daughter basically asking me the same question. And it’s very much on people’s minds after these public executions that have been taking place. But I am absolutely convinced – providing this generation, this moment of leadership makes the right choices, and we come together as we can, there is no question in my mind about our ability to beat this back.

There have been periods in history of enormous nihilism, of incredible cynicism, of remarkable violence. We just – we can go way back. I mean, you go back to Europe’s religious wars and the Thirty Years’ War, and many, many periods, World War II, World War I – millions of people were dying, I think 20, 30 million people in Russia alone in their efforts to be part of the war. So we can go through that. We know what the Holocaust was. The simple reality is that everything we have built since then has been structured to win this struggle.

But what has happened is, I think, over the last numbers of years – and I don’t want to fall into any partisanship here, but I think some of the choices made in the last 10, 15 years have encouraged some of this. And the result is there has not been a sufficient focus of how to spread prosperity broadly, invest in opportunity for young people in many places. And there are too many young people today who are uneducated, who are also feeling a sense of hopelessness in places where their vacuum is filled by these wild-eyed alternatives.

That’s not the only reason. There are a lot of other reasons, and you have to understand all of them to understand the proper responses. But this requires a comprehensive effort on a global basis to invest, to put alternatives on the table, but also to push back and fight back where necessary, where there is no bargaining, no negotiation, and no alternative view that will ever be accepted. That’s what makes this dangerous but entirely, in my judgment, manageable. And I think we’re in the process now of building exactly that kind of coalition and exactly that kind of response. It’s going to be expensive, it’s labor intensive, it will require greater communal funding, and everybody needs to understand that. But there’s no question if we do it we can win this struggle and we will win this struggle.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. While you keep Joe Nye’s question in mind please, what I now propose is to select a couple of – or one question, one or two questions each which are being addressed individually to you. And if it’s okay with you, I’ll start with a question addressed to Minister Fabius and they we go through John Kerry, back to Frank-Walter Steinmeier, because we don’t have a lot of time.

So the question which is addressed to Fabius comes to – comes from Frank Wisner, former senior official of practically every single U.S. administration. And the question is: What do the ministers believe are Russia’s objectives in Ukraine, and as a consequence, what lines should be pursued in seeking a settlement? That’s the question to you.

The question to Senator Kerry is really two questions. They’re brief. One is from Salil Shetty, the head of Amnesty International. The question is this: Senator Kerry, he says – Secretary Kerry, is it time to end the use of the veto in the Security Council when it comes to mass human rights atrocities, like Assad being protected by Russia, creating ISIS? So this is from Salil Shetty.

And the other question addressed to you specifically, Mr. Secretary, is from Jackson Janes from the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies in D.C. And that is the following question: President Obama’s new national security strategy calls for strategic patience. What is the difference between that and Frau Chancellor Merkel’s approach to the Ukraine crisis? It’s an interesting question.

And finally, a question from Rick Burt, former U.S. ambassador to the – to Germany and former senior negotiator for the U.S. administration on nuclear weapons: Herr Steinmeier, in your speech, you suggested that if a solution could be found on Ukraine, we should then think about finding a place for Russia in “a new security architecture.” What do you have in mind here?

So we’ll go back to Minister Fabius about Russia’s objectives and what kind of line to pursue. And please be brief, because we are really running out of time. Thanks.

FOREIGN MINISTER FABIUS: The stated objective is to ensure security for the inhabitants of the eastern parts of Ukraine and their specificities. If it is the real objective, I think it can be properly handled, because when we are discussing with our Ukrainian friends they accept the idea that there could be a particular status for these people, and it’s part and parcel of our discussion. If the real objective is different, to have a grasp on Ukraine – or at least on the eastern part of Ukraine – and on foreign policy and other elements, obviously the thing is different, because we believe in the integrity and identity of every single nation, and it would be very dangerous to accept that in Europe a country, because it’s a big one, could put his hand on another one. And that’s the whole discussion. This is my answer.

Now, I would like to take one of the two questions which are posed to John. (Laughter.) No, it’s a joke, but you know that France is in favor of a voluntary – you know that, John – abandon of or suspension of the veto when there is a question of mass atrocities. And it’s an issue that we are discussing with our colleagues and especially within in the P5. It’s very important, difficult, but it is true that when you see the paralysis of the UN Security Council, for instance in some massacre in Syria, there is some evolution which, for us, is necessary.

MODERATOR: Secretary?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me take – I’ve got three, and they’re really – and I’ll try to be very quick. Joe Nye’s question – will we remain united? The answer is absolutely, positively, unequivocally. We are united; we will remain united. We have had discussions, as all you know, about sanctions – which sanctions to use, when to apply them, which sector first, at what rate. And we have absolutely remained united even with those discussions.

The discussion taking place today is absolutely no different. And it’s sort of tactical. It is not strategic. On the fundamental goal with respect to Ukraine, we are absolutely united. We all agree on the goal. We want a diplomatic solution. We are working together on this process. And we agree on the outlines of exactly what that outcome should be with Minsk, with international border recognized, with heavy weapons being withdrawn, and so forth. So I don’t want anybody thinking for an instant – because there isn’t – a potential of any division here over what must be done and what we will do about Ukraine.

With respect to the veto, it’s a very legitimate question. And we have discussed it, and we are discussing it, and we’re looking at it. It’s fraught with the question of how do you do it and what do you get selective about with respect to one exemption or another exemption. But there is no question that we are all agonizing over this frustration about mass human catastrophe that is not responded to by the United Nations writ large, all of us, because of the potential for a proxy or some other alliance to present a veto. And it deserves full consideration, and we are providing that consideration now.

With respect to the strategic patience, there really isn’t – I mean, there is, again, no difference. Everybody understands what strategic patience is. We’re living in a much more complicated world. The bipolar divisions of the Cold War were really simple compared to what we’re facing today. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the forces that were released in that period of time, with the sectarianism that has grown, with the mistakes that were made, frankly, in Iraq in the last decade, it has created an unleashing of forces that had been contained for some period of time.

But there’s also other forces being released – the questions of opportunity, of corruption, of sectarian division, of governance, absence of governance, inadequacy of governance, and challenges, obviously, of leadership. Those have contributed to this intensity that people feel in certain places. But I believe that the global community is now beginning to understand and interpret much more effectively and with a better sense of direction exactly what we need to do together to respond to these things. And I’m convinced that this time is going to produce what we need.

The – even Henry Kissinger has said that this is a very different time with a different set of choices from those that we were presented in the context of East-West and the bipolar divisions of most of the 50, 60 years that defined the post-Cold War period. So if we respond correctly as I said, we will get this right. And it will take strategic patience in order to do what we need to do.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER STEINMEIER: (Via interpreter)Well, thank you very much to Rick Burt for the question pertaining to explanations regarding my speech and regarding the future of Russia.

To be brief, to keep it brief, let me remind you of one of the foreign ministers meetings last summer. Last summer, our Canadian colleague at the NATO foreign ministers meeting said we have to decide whether Russia is a friend, a partner, an enemy, or an opponent to us. And I said to him back then, the question is easier when you’re further away from the conflict region. When you’re closer, in the close neighborhood, it’s different.

Our experience in Europe is as follows. In good times or in bad, Russia remains our neighbor, remains neighbor of the European states. And no matter what, in good times or in bad, Russia will exert influence on realities in Europe.

And ladies and gentlemen, then we are confronted with a three-fold task. First of all, we have to bring clarity in our assessment of what has happened. We must not ignore – we cannot ignore when 70 years after the Second World War borders and delineations are being corrected, or corrections are made.

Second task at hand is crisis management. With all our means and opportunities in our toolbox we have to make sure that we use the opportunities to contain and defuse this conflict. And if we manage to defuse it, we have to bring it to a political settlement. And we must tackle and use these opportunities. It would be irresponsible to not use the opportunities at hand that we still have.

And thirdly – and this brings me to the question posed by Rick Burt – what are the lessons for the future? We don’t have to decide today on our relationship, the relationship between Europe and NATO, European member states and Russia, but we have to prepare ourselves for a future beyond conflict. And this future will look differently than from the realities we remember in the 70s or 80s years. As John Kerry also rightly pointed out, we won’t go back to a phase of confrontation of blocs or Cold War.

The future will look differently, and we will have to think about a future in which the trust that was there – maybe to a greater extent ten years ago between the west and Russia – we will have to consider a future where this trust and confidence has been done away with due to what has happened in the past. But we will have to think about what this means for a future security architecture in Europe.

Without explicitly quoting it in my speech, I reminded you that it was Russia’s idea as well to think about a European security architecture with involvement and integration of Russia. And this is why what I am saying now is also a call to Russia to tell us what kind of contributions they want to make, what they want to contribute in order to bring about a security architecture that is beneficial to all of us. So we can do this. A discussion is worth having after we have solved the conflict, what we’re still hoping for right now. Thank you.

MODERATOR: As we come to the conclusion of this part of our session, let me – before I thank the panel, let me make a housekeeping remark. Since we are not exactly on schedule, we will break in just a minute for a 15-minute coffee break. And I would invite you to be back here at 11:45 sharp to listen to what Senator John McCain has to say about all of these issues. He may not agree with everything you want to hear. But – and some of you may not agree with him. So having said this, 11:45. And let’s give a hand to our panel. (Applause.)