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Geography and overall strategy – A contemporary historical perspective on German foreign and security policy since 1990

Foreign policy is the sum of a country's history, geography and experience. Its geographical position at the center of Europe, a prominent feature of the country's strategic location, connects today's reunified Germany with the old Federal Republic. The year 1990 brought Germany a “second chance”, with the stroke of luck that was reunification. Since then, Germany's geographical and political situation has significantly improved. The central geopolitical result of the resulting shift in power is that the historical middle ground has become the determining basic condition of German foreign policy; the middle ground has, in a sense, been occupied by the West. The reunification of Europe; made possible by the European revolutions of 1989, the inclusion of a large part of the East-Central European, East European and Southeast European reform states in the Euro-Atlantic structures, the struggle for a relationship with Russia that fluctuates between cooperation and vigilant prevention, the tendency – persisting since the early 1990s – towards a stronger security policy alliance among Europeans in the form of a common foreign and security policy and the associated questions of the division of labor and future cohesion in the Atlantic community began with the events that led to the collapse of the Yalta and Potsdam order in 1989.

Against this background, the research project “Geography and overall strategy – A contemporary historical perspective on German foreign and security policy since 1990” examines the new tasks for German foreign policy, particularly the need to shape Germany's priorities. The perception of German foreign policy by its neighbors and partners, the influences of history and geography, the structural issues of German foreign and security policy, the question of the realization of an overall strategic approach and the unity of diplomacy and military strategy, are the focus of the project. In particular, the project will broaden the source base on German foreign policy through interviews, by tapping new sources, by conducting public discussions with key actors in German foreign and security policy at events at the University of Bonn, and by initiating several dissertation projects on partial aspects of the research project. The project will conclude with the presentation of a comprehensive monograph and electronic source data on the history of German foreign policy from 1990 to 2023.

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