Hamburg's Interior Senator Andy Grote calls for the federal states to participate in the development of the national security strategy. At the same time, the SPD politician expressed skepticism as to whether this "very complex task" was properly assigned to the Foreign Office. The fact that the leadership is in the department of Annalena Baerbock (Greens) is "not necessarily obvious," said Grote. "It is certainly an unsuitable approach to want to develop such a strategy without the federal states that are essentially responsible for internal security."
In its coalition agreement, the Berlin traffic light had agreed to develop a national security strategy. It is said to meet current and future challenges to security policy, both internally and externally, across departments and levels.
Against the background of the Russian attack on Ukraine, this was all the more necessary, emphasized Grote, who replaced Boris Pistorius as spokesman for the SPD-led A countries in the interior ministers' conference after his move to the Ministry of Defense. "However, this requires a very structured development process in which we systematically analyze which risks we have to deal with, how likely we consider the individual scenarios to be and which measures we can use to counteract them at what level."
In a world that has become more unstable, western democracies must stand their ground and stand together. "And that's where a strong country in the center of Europe like Germany is particularly challenged," said Grote. "This new situation also means that external and internal security overlap, interlock and connect much more." A clear separation is hardly possible. And this interlocking of external and internal security must also be reflected in the strategy. "And I'm not so sure at the moment."
A failure in the energy supply, for example, always has the potential to trigger a disaster scenario. "Then it ultimately doesn't matter whether it was a classic crime, a targeted attack from outside or an accident. The effects are the same,” said Grote.
It can be observed that in an international conflict states like Russia use means of internal destabilization much more intensively than before. It's not just about cyber attacks with the aim of damaging critical infrastructures. “It also concerns the issue of disinformation: that is, the massive attempt to influence public opinion. Manipulating public opinion can become democracy's Achilles' heel,” he warned.
Therefore, strengthening forces that want to destabilize this democratic state is also in the interests of foreign state actors. “The Russian narrative has supporters on both the far left and the far right of the political spectrum.”
Ultimately, however, classic physical sabotage must also be taken into account in the security strategy. "I can't just paralyze critical infrastructure such as pipelines and railway lines with cyber attacks," said Grote. "We've seen both. We are vulnerable and need to protect ourselves better.”