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Viewing cable 09BERLIN1609, GERMANY'S NEW DEVELOPMENT MINISTER CONNECTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN1609 2009-12-21 16:04 2010-11-28 18:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO2092
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHRL #1609/01 3551631
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211631Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6111
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0680
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0602
RUEHDF/AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF PRIORITY 0263
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT PRIORITY 8348
RUEHAG/AMCONSUL HAMBURG PRIORITY 0352
RUEHLZ/AMCONSUL LEIPZIG PRIORITY 0257
RUEHMZ/AMCONSUL MUNICH PRIORITY 2223
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 001609 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EEB/IFD/ODF (LEATHAM, ALEXANDER), SCA/A (BRADY), 
NEA/IPA (LENTZ), EUR/CE (HODGES, SCHROEDER) 
TREASURY FOR SMART, ICN (NORTON), IMB, OASIA 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID ECON EFIN PGOV PREL GM
SUBJECT: GERMANY'S NEW DEVELOPMENT MINISTER CONNECTS 
DEVELOPMENT WITH SECURITY POLICY 
 
BERLIN 00001609  001.3 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  Dirk Niebel (FDP) was an odd pick as 
Germany's new Development Minister -- he had no experience in 
international development, and had previously suggested 
abolishing the Development Ministry.  Now in charge, Niebel 
has big shoes to fill, following on the heels of Heidemarie 
Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD).  Important differences with his 
predecessor are already apparent: he would like to integrate 
Germany's development policy more closely with its foreign 
and security policy, including in Afghanistan.  Niebel is 
also a firm believer in free markets, and sees a successful 
conclusion of the Doha Development Round as critical for 
developing countries.  For Niebel, nothing is sacrosanct: he 
intends to phase out German aid to China, which he regards as 
no longer a developing country.  With the ministry under new 
management, there may be additional opportunities for 
collaboration between the United States and Germany on 
development policy.  END SUMMARY. 
 
DIRK WHO? 
--------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Dirk Niebel struck many as an unlikely choice for 
Development Minister in the coalition government of 
Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic Union 
(CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) and Guido Westerwelle's 
Free Democratic Party (FDP) (the "Black-Yellow" coalition). 
A Hamburg native, Niebel's previous work experience includes 
eight years as a paratrooper in the German armed forces, and 
five years as a placement officer at a job center in 
Heidelberg.  In 1998, he was elected to the Bundestag (lower 
house of Parliament), where he became caucus spokesperson for 
labor market policy and a member of the Labor Committee.  In 
2005, FDP Chairman (and current Foreign Minister) Westerwelle 
tapped him as FDP Secretary General -- a position he held 
until Chancellor Merkel appointed him Development Minister in 
November 2009.  As Secretary General, Niebel had called for 
the elimination of the ministry he would later head, the 
Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 
(NOTE: This option appears off the table for now. END NOTE) 
Niebel succeeds Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul of the Social 
Democratic Party (SPD), who headed BMZ for a record 11 years. 
 
 
CONNECTED SECURITY 
------------------ 
 
3.  (SBU) In a December 18 meeting with Ambassador Murphy, 
Niebel said he intended to "make some changes at BMZ."  One 
such change is linking development policy more closely with 
foreign and security policy -- a concept he referred to as 
"connected security."   Niebel told the Ambassador he planned 
to coordinate very closely with Foreign Minister Guido 
Westerwelle, and that he foresaw much greater cooperation 
between BMZ and the German military in northern Afghanistan. 
(NOTE: Days prior to the meeting with Ambassador Murphy, 
Niebel had announced BMZ would increase civilian assistance 
to Afghanistan by around 50 million euros, bringing Germany's 
2009 total to over 260 million euros. END NOTE) 
 
4. (SBU) In a separate meeting several months ago, 
Chancellery National Security Advisor Christoph Heusgen had 
told us that BMZ under a Black-Yellow coalition would be less 
wedded to "old" notions of doing development work.  This 
assessment now appears to be accurate.   Wiezcorek-Zeul had 
ensured that German development staff worked and lived in 
separate compounds, away from provincial reconstruction teams 
(PRTs) and other bases from which the Ministry of Defense, 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior 
operated.  She even refused to ride in German military 
vehicles when she visited Afghanistan.  This kind of 
separation seems likely to end under Niebel, both physically 
and substantively. 
 
5. (SBU) Among other ideas Niebel brings to the table is a 
plan to partner with third country donors like Israel on 
projects in developing countries.  Niebel told the Ambassador 
that Israel,s expertise in border protection could be shared 
 
BERLIN 00001609  002.3 OF 002 
 
 
with African countries, for example.  By teaming up with 
Germany, Israel could participate in certain capacity 
building projects where it might not otherwise have access. 
 
LAISSEZ-FAIRE DEVELOPMENT 
------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Shortly after becoming Minister, Niebel remarked 
that his overall development philosophy was helping recipient 
countries help themselves.  He regards the successful 
conclusion of World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Doha 
Development Round as especially meaningful for developing 
countries.  "There is more money being lost by trade barriers 
than all the development aid can make up for," he said.  This 
perspective marks a noteworthy departure from the approach of 
Wieczorek-Zeul, dubbed "red Heide" for her affiliation with 
the Young Socialists years ago. 
 
7. (SBU) Niebel also opposes a proposed tax on international 
financial transactions to fund development assistance.  Both 
Chancellor Merkel and Wieczorek-Zeul had championed the 
so-called "Tobin tax."  Citing "differences" within the 
government on the issue, Niebel has reportedly ended BMZ's 
participation in an international working group on the 
proposed tax. 
 
8.  (SBU) Niebel is keen to reorient BMZ's assistance. 
Reflecting on comments made publicly in his first days as 
Minister, Niebel told Ambassador Murphy that Germany planned 
to stop providing development assistance to China, currently 
one of the largest recipients of German aid.  He added that 
China was "only a developing country when it came to climate 
change negotiations."  BMZ will carry out its existing aid 
obligations to China only through next year.  The decision 
has proved controversial, as BMZ's assistance to China had 
reportedly benefitted German companies doing business there. 
 
TRAVEL PLANS 
------------ 
 
9. (SBU) Niebel said he planned to spend the holidays in 
Israel.  (NOTE: Niebel is a long-standing member of the 
German-Israeli Society. END NOTE) His first official travel 
to the developing world will be a late January trip to 
"Rwanda, eastern Congo, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Asia." 
The Ambassador suggested Niebel visit Washington to meet with 
new USAID Administrator Shah once confirmed.  Niebel said he 
would coordinate dates for the visit with the Embassy. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
10. (SBU) Niebel takes charge of BMZ at a challenging time: 
Germany will run its largest post-war deficit in 2010, and 
pressure to rein in spending will strain every ministry. 
Niebel's close relationship with Westerwelle should be an 
asset, however, and could help minimize cuts on key 
priorities.  The close relationship will also facilitate 
Niebel's vision of integrating development policy with 
foreign and security policy.  Since taking over at BMZ, 
Niebel has increased assistance to Afghanistan, where Germany 
was already the third largest donor, and appears open to 
doing more in support of an integrated strategy in the north. 
 An early meeting between the new USAID Administrator, who 
oversees the world's largest aid budget, and the new German 
Development Minister, who oversees the world's second 
largest, could be an important step in building stronger 
U.S.-German cooperation on our top development priorities. 
DELAWIE