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The Role and Significance of Germany in the International Arena in the 21st Century

Summary.This paper aims at analyzingthe evolution of the international role of Germany in the twenty-first century and answering the question about the importance of the Federal Republic of Germany in the international arena. The research methods used in the paper include descriptive and factual analysis, statistical data analysis and analysis of selected publications. The findings of the conducted research confirm the growing role of Germany in the international arena, both in Europe and in the world. However, it should be emphasized that its role is largely determined by the strength and position of the European Union.

Keywords: Germany, Germany in the international arena, Germany's position in the European Union, global role of Germany.

Introduction

The Federal Republic of Germany is a politically stable and highly developed state with a democratic political system based on the social market economy model [1, p. 261-276], [2, p. 261-271]. Germany is also the largest economy in Europe, the fourth in the world and the leader of global exports. Germany heads the world in the field of providing development aid for developing countries, sets standards for the future development of the global economy based on the green economy and the concept of sustainable development. Germany’s military involvement is increasing in many corners of the world, starting with the Mediterranean basin and extending to Asia and Africa. However, such engagement is quite restraining, conservative and often inadequate. The main reasons for that are the Nazi past and the role of Germany during World War II. On the one hand, many countries expect Germany to be involved, but on the other hand, German military missions are often controversial in the opinion of either international and German societies as they are often reluctant when it comes to the Bundeswehr military operations [3]. In fact, for several years the global role of Germany has been undergoing a significant transformation and is constantly growing. Probably Germany's importance in the international arena in the 21st century will be further strengthened - not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world. The authorities of the German state and its society are now facing new challenges, which will redefine the role of the Federal Republic of Germany in the international arena.

The discussion of this subject began with the German reunification in 1990 when it became obvious that the role and importance of the German state would be significantly reoriented. The leading and dominant role of Germany on the European continent has been particularly highlighted following two occurrences. Firstly, there was a global financial and economic crisis of 2008, which particularly affected the countries of southern Europe. Secondly, there were numerous challenges emerging in the European Union and its surrounding. Regardless of whether we are dealing with financial problems of some EU member states, the Ukrainian crisis or the influx of refugees, each time Germany's position and the leading role in solving problems are the key points of an issue. After all, it does not make difference if Germany’s undertakings are supported, concurred with, questioned or not. It does not influence the fact that Germany plays a major role in the process of resolving the challenges that Europe is facing. This fact gives us a cause for reflection and consideration on the future role and significance of the FRG. Not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world. This study attempts to find an answer to this question.

In times of global interdependence, Germany's prosperity and security are strongly dependent on processes, which take place not only in Europe but also in the world. Undoubtedly, Germany is one of the largest beneficiaries of globalization [4]. The development of multi-polar international order [5], [6]. has created many new opportunities for Germany, including the possibility of assuming a more active role in the global system both on the economic level and in the political sphere. In the 21st century the world is facing numerous global problems such as growing number of international conflicts, development of international terrorism, global population growth, which entails increasing demand for food and a number of threats related to global warming and the need of at least partial switching of world economy to renewable energy sources. In the face of these challenges and threats, Germany can no longer remain a passive actor. It is necessary for the state to be more actively involved in resolving European and global problems and not only by using economic tools but also through enhancement of political and military activity. Kamil Frymark claims that the international role of Germany "cannot be limited to one aspect of the functioning of the state in the external arena, on the contrary, these roles are constantly changing and expanding. As a country that wants to have a say in the most important international policy issues, Germany must take on more and more responsibility, which now also means being ready to engage in military conflicts" [7].

Germany sets the tone and new standards for European politics in many areas. After the Second World War, Germany has become a democratic state under the rule of law and a dynamically developing economy based on the ordoliberal concept of the social market economy [8, p. 47-62]. In the 1970s, the foreign policy of German Chancellor Willy Brandt led to warming and defining new relations with the socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe [9], which was criticized by the main opposition coalition CDU/CSU. At the beginning of the 21st century the Germans were able to set new standards in Europe by deciding on a number of difficult labor market reforms. That way they limited the developed social state and formed new bases for dynamic economic development [10]. Finally, Germany has increased a number of attempts to boost its own economic development based on the concept of sustainable development in several years. It also shows an active policy of solving crises in Europe as well as in its surrounding. From a global perspective, Germany is a medium-sized country that finds it difficult to pursue an active international policy around the world. The strength of Germany lies in the strength of the European Union, while the strength of the European Union largely depends on the potential and strength of Germany. Therefore, we can venture to say that it is highly probable that European and global success of the Federal Republic of Germany will depend on effective cooperation between the member states of the European Union. This assumption explains the reason why Germany is ready to get involved in European affairs though it often raises numerous concerns and controversies. However, it should be noted that the main threat to German policy in Europe is possibly a lack of readiness for partnership cooperation, an attempt to impose German standards or solutions on other countries or even  perceiving Germany’s intentions in such a way. The activity of West Germany is still perceived through the prism of experience from the First and Second World Wars. That is why German foreign policy will still require great caution and sensitivity to the needs and positions of the partners, especially European ones. 

The role and significance of Germany in the European Union

Germany is the largest country in the European Union that produces 1/5 of the EU GDP, with the population of more than 81 million people, GDP exceeding 3,133 trillion euros [11] (Bruttoinlandsprodukt ..., http) and annual export of 1.207 trillion euros in 2016 [12,  p. 419]. It is also the biggest net contributor to the European budget [13]. The main recipients of German goods and services are the USA, France and the United Kingdom sequentially. Germany imports mainly from China, the Netherlands and France. Therefore, it is very strongly connected with both European and global economies. The most important sectors of the German economy in 2016 included the production of cars with a turnover of 406 billion euros, the construction of machines with a turnover of 240 billion euros and pharmaceutical and chemical industry with a turnover of 184 billion euros [12].

The role and significance of Germany in Europe have undergone a far-reaching change in the last quarter of the century as claims by Marek A. Cichocki. According to the researcher, "due to the huge costs of enlargement, Germany was described as a "sick man of Europe" at the turn of the 20th and 21st century and  its socio-economic model was considered outdated. Today the situation is very different: Germany is an "indispensable power" (Ash), an "economic anchor of Europe" (Posen), an "economic hegemon" (Guérot) in the crisis-stricken Europe. The relation between the European project and Germany has also clearly changed (the German paradigm in Europe). In the current discourse, it is clear that the paradigm is not so much about how European integration can change Germany, it is about how Germany can change a European project to protect it from its weakness "[14, p. 1]. Krzysztof Malinowski shares this opinion and believes that "due to the economic advantage of Germany in the EU, the political requirements and expectations towards the FRG have definitely increased. The basic question in the face of the crisis in the Eurozone concerns the incarnation of Germany. It concerns the policy Germany will choose – whether it is going to be a hegemony or rather (and more likely) a state that strengthens its leadership gradually, moderately and not necessarily at the expense of partners. In other words, if and how the German leadership can positively influence the future of Europe" [15, p. 30]. However, it should be emphasized  that Germany is not able to lead Europe alone [16], because solitary leadership would disturb the European balance and contribute to the increase of tensions and conflicts on the European continent [14, p. 2]. This lies neither in the interest of Germany nor in the interest of any other member state of the European Union.

The reunification of Germany and the USSR withdrawal from Central Europe shifted the FRG to the center of Europe and enabled the expansion of European integration to the East. It also contributed to weakening France's position in favor of Germany [17]. Therefore, after the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, Germany has become the main supporter of the enlargement process of European integration to the east and north. With this conception, Germany has become a country surrounded by the allies and gained the possibility of further economic expansion, which is crucial for its development.

Nowadays, Germany sets the directions for the development of the European Union primarily on the economic level. What features German social and economic model is its high productivity alongside low unemployment and stable prices [14, p. 2]. Expansive export policy plays a key role in this respect, which on the one hand, provides Germany with economic success but on the other hand, leads to numerous imbalances in the European Union and it can’t be left unnoticed. The weaker European economies, which are united by the single currency and the Single European Market for many years have been coping with unresolved structural problems, so they are not able to tackle with German competitiveness. As there is no single social and economic policy for the entire European Union, deeper divisions and economic crises emerge and will continue to appear and threaten political stability at the same time. The sources of this problem should be sought in the specifics of German European policy, which is largely characterized by political weakness, combined with assertive trade policy. In the opinion of Hanns W. Maull, "German politics is to some extent still a continuation of the idea of ​​civilian power and German political culture is still based on a specific pacifism understood" [18]. This translates into German temperance in taking more leadership and more active roles in Europe while gradually expanding its economic influence. Although, it should be noted that the German government is actively involved in solving the economic problems of other states that are members of the Community, and is often criticized for it. Such attempts are often a cause of reluctance and fears. Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that Germany's international role is closely related to the fate of the European Union.

The importance of Germany in Europe has changed significantly with the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008. Since the chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government introduced a package of structural reforms known as "Agenda 2010", the Germans managed to rebuild and strengthen their competitiveness, especially in relation to the economies of so-called "Old Europe". At the same time, some European Union countries have abandoned the implementation of many reforms preferring to take low-interest loans and credits, which were accessible due to the introduction of the single euro currency. This resulted in an increase of these countries’ debts and losing competitiveness in favor of Germany as well as putting them behind the biggest European economy. Michał Kędzierski is right in noting that "France is going through economic stagnation, Italy is experiencing a recession that Spain managed to recover from just last year. It was necessary to save Portugal, Ireland and Greece from bankruptcy. These countries are facing unresolved problems, both economic and social. What their governments have to do is to introduce unpopular reforms and therefore affect political instability" [17]. There have been numerous voices in Europe encouraging Germany to take more responsibility for Europe in this context. This idea was reflected in the words of Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski as he was giving a speech at the forum of the German Society for Foreign Policy in 2011. Sikorski said "I fear German power less than German inactivity" [19]. Such courageous and far-sighted vision of the European Union’s functioning and the role of Germany in it was highly appreciated among the German elites and strongly criticized in some circles in Poland. However, such affairs as the prolonged Greek crisis, unresolved problems with the wave of illegal immigration to Europe and the rise of populism and nationalism in Europe delay implementation of bold principles. Europe also does not seem to be ready for the new role of Germany on the continent. Neither is Germany itself.

Regardless of the assessment of German European policy and mistakes and numerous problems that still need to be solved, after the reunification of Germany, the country has been consistently implementing "foreign policy of European roots". It was Germany that actively participated and initiated the actions on ​​further enlargement of the European Union, thanks to which the area of ​​peace, prosperity and stability in Europe has been enlarged [20, p. 126]. As George Friedman accurately notes, Germany has regained its dominant position on the European continent [21, p. 186]. However, Germany is not quite able to place itself in this new role. In some issues the FRG too often demonstrates inactivity, though, in case of some other issues, for example, the immigration crisis, the state tends to get overeager. The mistakes that Germany has lately made in its policy towards other European countries include the lack of understanding of European partners that are going through crisis, which takes place frequently; the lack of consent to launch booming programs that would help overcome the crisis in southern European countries or attempts to impose German ideas and treat them as a solutions of European problems. From the German point of view, the main reason that led to economic problems were laziness, incontinence and irresponsibility of governments such as Greece one. Whereas from the perspective of these countries only Germany has to take responsibility for causing such problems because the way Germany forced a transformation of the European system resulted in facilitating Germany’s export expansion [21, p. 180-181]. The adoption of such different perspectives will not simplify the process of finding a quick solution to European problems. This, in turn, translates into the spread of the isolationism in many European countries, which makes a threat of disintegration within the European Union more real and engrains concerns about the rising power of Germany. 

The role of Germany in solving international conflicts 

For historical reasons, German foreign policy is very conservative in the aspect of using force, especially of a military kind. It is much more oriented towards international cooperation, especially in the area of ​​trade and economy [22, p. 15]. Since the end of the Second World War Germany has been avoiding to define of its national interest for many years. However, the moment of the reunification of Germany was a starting point of a gradual "normalization" of German foreign policy. In the 21st century, Germany's national interest can be defined on three levels: (1) ensuring global security and free access to trade routes, (2) comprehensive integration within the European Union and the global economy, and (3) expanding the German influence in international institutions [22, p. 15]. The most important German politicians are more and more frequently speaking out in favor of greater international involvement of the Federal Republic of Germany. A large part of the international community also expects such involvement. The paradox is that a substantial part of public opinion in Germany is against increasing of German involvement on the international forum. At the beginning of 2014, during the Bundestag sessions, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke in favor of increasing German responsibility in solving international conflicts, even if it is necessary to use military means. German Chancellor Angela Merkel shares this idea. She claimed the same year that German foreign and security policy  instruments should include a combination of military means and diplomatic and civilian activity [23], recognizing the latter as the primary instrument of German influence.

The German government takes a position that "German security is inseparable from the political development of Europe and the rest of the world" [24]. This attitude is a result of the growth of international interdependencies in many areas, which translates into a greater degree of interrelation between states comparing to the past. This means that the purpose of the security policy and the main national interest of Germany is to strive to deepen cooperation with its partners, primarily in the framework of three international institutions: the United Nations, NATO and the European Union. From the German point of view, a key element in ensuring the well-being and security of the state is to have influence in the most important international institutions [24] and affect processes occurring in the international environment of Germany.

There is a broad consensus on the German political scene that the UN resolutions should be a basis for resolving disputes and international conflicts, especially in the context of possible decisions about German military involvement in the world. For Germany, the UN is also a central organization to regulate international order and a key foreign policy forum at the global level [22, p. 15]. Since the reunification, Germany has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council three times (in 1995/96, 2003/04, 2011/12), each time demonstrating the readiness to take greater responsibility for shaping international security. It has also been seeking to obtain a permanent membership of the UN Security Council for years. The UN also expects Germany to become more involved in UN peacekeeping missions, especially after Germany took a very cautious position in the conflict in Libya [22, p. 16]. Assuming a UN Security Council reform is attempted, Germany will probably gain the status of a permanent member.

Another forum of German activity in solving international conflicts is the North Atlantic Alliance. NATO is a key organization for the Federal Republic of Germany, which guarantees peace and stability on the European continent. The role of Germany in NATO has evolved since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the partial decrease of the American contribution to European security. The reorientation of the strategic goals of the alliance and the shift of American involvement from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region resulted in Germany’s efforts to start formulating a European security policy. However, this system was not meant to compete with a NATO’s or the United States’ system. It was meant to be one of the pillars of the transatlantic security system. The North Atlantic Alliance was to continue to play a key role [22, p. 16]. However, it should be noted that the attempts to formulate a European security policy face numerous obstacles and in the context of the crisis in Ukraine and Russian policy of aggression, it is very likely that NATO will continue to play a key role in ensuring European security.

The number of the Bundeswehr's humanitarian and military missions is the evidence of the scale of German involvement in the field of international security. German armed forces have participated in 130 such missions - in Europe, Asia and Africa since 1960. In 2002 the Germans had the third largest military contingent in the world serving outside their own country with a number of soldiers exceeding 10,000, following the armies of the United States and Great Britain. Currently, almost 3,000 soldiers serve outside Germany, mainly in Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Mediterranean and Iraq [25].

The growing role of Germany in solving international conflicts comes in German activity in solving the Ukrainian conflict, involvement in the fight against international terrorism or in assistance that Germany provides to the victims of armed conflicts. From the very beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the German government has opted for a policy of sanctions against Russia, despite losses suffered by the German economy and the opposition of numerous interest groups. The Federal Republic of Germany plays a leading part in solving the conflict in Ukraine [26], often exposing itself and its own mainly economic interests. Germany also took the responsibility of resolving the crisis related to the inflow of immigrants to Europe, supporting the mission of the European Union in Mali, acting against pirates off the coast of Somalia and supporting the fight against the so-called Islamic State by training Kurdish troops in northern Iraq and conducting intelligence and reconnaissance missions off the coast of Syria [25]. The area of ​​international involvement of the Federal Republic of Germany is far beyond the European continent and has not been limited to the generous financing of humanitarian and development aid.

International position of Germany in the 21st century will depend on the scale of German involvement in solving conflicts and international disputes. Presumably, it will be highly dependent on whether German actions are a success or a failure. If Germany manages to overcome conflicts in the European Union’s surrounding in cooperation with its partners, reveal that it is possible to integrate hundreds of thousands of refugees, prove that German ideas of combating the debt and the economic crisis in Europe are effective and despite having political and economic advantage over other states of the European Union, Germany will be able to support them, then certainly the Federal Republic of Germany will play one of the key roles in the international arena in the 21st century. Although, Germany is facing many challenges. Both internal processes and the external environment may threaten German plans of becoming more active in the international arena. What will happen if the Federal Republic of Germany fails to do that? Or if the fears of hegemonic or dominant Germany’s position revive again in Europe and as a result make Germany’s European partners turn away? Then probably the predictions of the prominent American political scientist Georg Friedman, who stated that in the second half of the 21st century Germany will no longer play any significant international role [27], [28] will be founded. Even though currently these prognoses do not seem to be happening, we cannot completely exclude such possibilities.

Development aid as an instrument of building the international position of Germany 

After the end of the Second World War, particularly after the success of economic reforms at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s, development aid has become one of the basic instruments of global influence and conducting the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. Germany justified it by historical, political, economic, ecological and moral reasons, just like the other countries did. In the opinion of Christine Hegenbart and Alexander Wolf, German foreign policy should be shaped in a way that exploits the strengths and potential of Germany, and at the same time allows the German society to realize the essence and purpose of undertaken activities without having any controversies [29, p. 4]. In this context, development policy seems to be the adequate tool.

In the past, during the so-called "Cold War" Germany pursued development policy to attach the third world countries and consequently inhibit the recognition of the second German state - the GDR - under international law. In subsequent years, development policy proved to give opportunities to improve the socio-economic situation of the poorer countries. Nowadays, there is a vibrant ongoing discussion in Germany on how to use development aid as an effective tool in the fight against international terrorism. The main argument for choosing such an approach is that the political and economic stability of states is the most effective way to combat terrorism [30], although this thesis should be considered questionable. Many terrorists, especially those related to the so-called Islamic State, do not come from poor countries. They often represent the second or even the third generation of immigrants who have come and lived in Europe for decades [31].

According to OECD data, global development aid in 2015 amounted to just over 131 billion dollars. The three biggest donors were the USA with the aid at the level of 31.5 billion dollars, the United Kingdom - 18.7 billion dollars and Germany - 17.7 billion dollars [32]. Development assistance is particularly important for Germany. It contributes to preventing crises in developing countries, which are often affected by numerous conflicts. The policy of the Federal Republic of Germany in this area is essentially focused on first of all identifying areas of threats and preventive actions and then resolving conflicts as a second step. This way, Germany has a significant influence on the stabilization of regions threatened by conflicts [29, p. 4].

As a result of delivering aid Germany contributes to the economic progress of developing countries, while creating favorable conditions for the expansion of German enterprises and the development of German exports. Most importantly, the German society supports this policy, regardless of whether we are dealing with humanitarian aid, civic projects or assistance in the reconstruction of public institutions and security services. In this respect, there is a broad social consensus in Germany and consent for Germany to take more responsibility in the world for similar activity [29, p. 4].

Ecological themes also play an important role in development aid provided by Germany. Many developing countries have rich supplies of natural resources, such as forests or petroleum. On the one hand, Germany tries to secure access to them and on the other hand, supports their use in a balanced manner. This makes Germany one of the world leaders in the promotion of the global concept of sustainable development.

The development policy is very significant as a part of Germany’s foreign policy. In fact, Germany is one of a few countries where there is a separate ministry, which is in charge of formation and coordination of development policy. Its practical implementation is handled by the number of independent and separate institutions, although it should be emphasized that Germany usually has a majority share in them, thus keeps complete control over them [30].

The major institution that deals with the so-called "Financial cooperation" (Finanzielle Zusammenarbeit - FZ) is the Reconstruction Credit Institute (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau - KfW), which includes a number of financial institutions supporting the implementation of specific projects. The projects are supported primarily by means of easily accessible and low-interest loans granted to developing countries. For the poorest countries, the aid often means a non-returnable loan [30]. Technical cooperation is handled by the German Society for Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit - GTZ), while the German Development Service (Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst - DED) is responsible for personal cooperation.

German development aid is currently giving support mainly to countries of the African continent and countries of Asia, but to a lesser extent. When it comes to the sectoral division, the activity is primarily focused on the protection of the environment and natural resources and on the support of education. Moreover, Germany supports initiatives that aim at establishing and developing democracy, building a civic society, fighting against corruption or supporting the decentralization of authorities to strengthen self-government [30]. The implemented activities are constantly evaluated in order to be corrected and modified on regular basis. The scale of involvement in advancing German development policy and the number of institutions committed to it alongside the establishment of a separate ministry testify to the importance of this area for the Federal Republic of Germany in terms of global influence. 

Conclusions 

The power of German activity in the world is demonstrated by the scale of its involvement in many areas. Starting with the policy conducted within the UN, the European Union and NATO and extending to delivering development aid and the activity of a number of political, cultural and educational institutions around the world. The Federal Republic of Germany’s activity in each of these fields is vast. German political foundations such as the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Fridrich Ebert Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and others operate in many countries around the world. German culture and the German language are promoted in the world mainly through the activity of the Goethe Institute. Germany is building fundaments of good relations with future political, business, scientific or social elites in many countries through granting easy and widely available scholarships of DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) [33, p. 43]. All these activities are the proof of a wise, long-term and reasonable foreign policy that is supposed to build a positive image of Germany in the international arena. They also testify to global aspirations and ambitions of this country. Germany can be a role model in many aspects and areas, whether we speak of German health care system, vocational education system or social welfare [34, p. 41]. German diplomacy is commendable and can be exemplary as it is conducted on many levels and with the help of various instruments.

International observers pay attention and especially appreciate the activity of German political foundations. Their activity (regardless of the political view they represent) is financed from the federal budget, heedless of a coalition that is currently making a parliamentary majority. This proves the high maturity of the German political elites and the perception of foreign policy as a common reason of state. Political foundations are a very important channel of influence of German diplomacy. They represent different political options, so they are able, in most cases, to ensure good relations with other states, even if the leadership changes. This is a particularly important point for developing countries. In addition, German political foundations make it possible to maintain unofficial channels of contact with various political environments, even in case German government downgrades or suspends official contacts with another state.

When attempting to answer the question of Germany’s international role in the 21st century, it should be emphasized that it will largely depend on the position of Germany in the European Union and on the readiness of the other EU Member States to support German actions. Germany has become a superpower again. It is a subject of numerous discussions; a source of hope but also concerns. Europe is discussing the central role of this state; what problems the FRG causes as well as effectively solves. The leadership role of Germany on the continent is being underlined more often but Germany itself tries to avoid it.

What features Germany as a state and a nation and determines its international position and significance? Paradoxically, it is a willingness to do things methodically and in an organized way. Over the past two centuries this approach has led three times to being a superpower and also twice to its defeat. The first time it happened in 1871 when Germany developed as a modern nation-state. After defeating France, Germany redefined Europe. The next attempt to rebuilt its power was after losing the First World War but later Germany suffered a failure after its surrender during the Second World War. In 1945 it was very common to believe that Germany’s power was then a thing of the past. Nevertheless, it took  the state just one generation to rebuild its power again, culminating in the reunification of Germany [21, p. 213-217]. In Georg Friedman's opinion, "the features that led the Germans to do exceptionally bad things during the war also worked out during the post-war economic catastrophe. (...) Unlike other nations that were unable or unwilling to do so, the Germans were able to show discipline in reconstruction and rebuild the country in just one century, outpacing France and Great Britain"[21, p. 217]. Unfortunately, historical experience shows that in case of Germany, successes and defeats are closely related. The solution to this dilemma will be crucial for Germany's further position in Europe and in the world.

In the 21st century, Germany will have to redefine the type of its international activity. Being a continuous economic power but having political and military weaknesses is not a natural state, especially for a country, whose 50% of GDP depends on the availability of foreign markets. The fundamental question in this context is whether the European Union states are ready to accept a dominant, albeit not a hegemonic role of Germany on the continent. It means that Germany needs to increase its involvement in Europe (political, financial and military) and convince European partners of its policy. The other European Union countries need to free themselves from negative stereotypes, prejudices and fears about Germany. If this process is successful, then we can state that in the 21st century Germany will play one of the most important roles in the international arena as a part of the European Union. 

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