New Delhi. 21 January 2022. Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, Chief of the German Navy, visited the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and delivered a Talk on ‘Germany’s Indo-Pacific Strategy’ on 21 January 2022. Vice Admiral Schönbach’s talk coincides with the docking of German Naval Frigate ‘BAYERN’ at the Mumbai port.
In his Welcome Remarks, Director General, MP-IDSA, Amb. Sujan R. Chinoy, described the German navy’s return to the region after nearly two decades as a ‘significant maritime event with broad strategic implications’.
Highlighting the shifts underway in Asia, Amb. Chinoy noted that the transition of the traditional engines of global economic growth from the West to the East have altered the geostrategic landscape. Prosperity is no longer the monopoly of a particular part of Asia. It is more wide-spread, giving rise to the inclusive concept of the Indo-Pacific that straddles East and South-East Asia, South Asia, all the way up to the east coast of Africa, he pointed out.
Speaking on China, Amb Chinoy said that Beijing’s current economic and military policies have cast a shadow on the geo-economic and geo-strategic architecture in the Indo-Pacific. India’s geographical location and its growing trade, economic and strategic interests in the extended neighbourhood places upon it a major responsibility to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in tandem with like-minded partners, he added, imploring that India and Germany must work together to promote defence and security ties in the region.
Speaking on the occasion, Vice Admiral Schönbach, said that Bayern’s deployment in the region is in line with Germany’s Indo-Pacific policy guidelines that focus on maritime security and cooperation. Global stability is a pre-requisite for global stability, he observed.
Elaborating upon Germany’s commitment towards stepping up its security and defense engagements in the region, the Vice Admiral said that his country favours open shipping routes, open markets and free trade, but at the same time also supports digitalization, connectivity and human rights. The deployment of Bayern is intended to reinforce the security aspect of Germany’s commitment in the Indo-Pacific, he added.
Describing India as an important strategic partner in the region, Vice Admiral Schönbach said that both the nations should explore avenues to strengthen naval cooperation and enhance strategic engagement. Reflecting upon China, he said that although Beijing is an important partner for both India and Germany, its assertive behaviour has put pressure upon the international order.
The deployment of the German frigate BAYERN is largely seen as Germany’s renewed strategic interest in the region. The frigate was sent to the Indo-Pacific in August 2021 on a patrolling and training mission. The presence of the frigate in the Indo-Pacific is seen as a precursor to enhanced deployments in the future by Germany in the region.