bedeckt München 21°

Foreign Policy:"Britain will remain a global power of the first order"

The British coalition government is focused on the deficit and domestic refom. However, in his replies to questions by Süddeutsche Zeitung, Prime Minister David Cameron is setting out his vision for a modern security policy: a nation that does not believe in a common European army but in close military cooperation, a critical but open approach to Russia and healthy scepticism towards the Euro.

After a decade with two asymmetric wars and many lessons learned about new threats, what does Britain's security policy focus on now?

Last October, the Coalition Government published a new National Security Strategy and a Strategic Defence and Security Review, which together set out a comprehensive assessment of the security threats we face and how we will respond to them. In short, our analysis is that the greatest threats we face are from international terrorism - which is something I intend to talk about specifically in Munich - as well as from cyber threats, international military crises, and national disasters such as floods. That assessment informed the choices we made for the future of our military and national security capabilities. Let me be clear: Britain will remain a global power of the first order. We will have armed forces and equipment fit for the twentyfirst century; strong security and intelligence agencies; and diplomats and development aid which can help us prevent threats before they become a reality. We are also increasing our spending on cyber security by around one billion euros. Of course, given the scale of the deficit the Coalition inherited, we've had to make some tough choices too and scale back in some areas. But I am clear that we've made the right decisions for the long term defence and prosperity of the country.

Do we have to live with extremists' threats indefinitely?

The UK, like Germany, has lived with the threat of terrorism and violent extremism for many years. Our police, security and intelligence agencies work tirelessly, and without public recognition, to protect us from it. We have been clear in our new National Security Strategy that we believe that the threat from violent extremists and terrorists is expected to continue over the next five years. No one can tackle this alone. The first step is making sure we succeed in Afghanistan. Second, we must work together wherever terrorists are exploiting ungoverned spaces: Yemen or Somalia, for example. And third, there is an agenda of work here in Europe, in our own societies, to deal with the problem of radicalisation at home. That is something I'll be addressing in a bit more detail in my speech on Saturday.

Is another Afghanistan thinkable in the foreseeable future? What are the lessons learned?

I'm not going to speculate about the future: but I do want to be absolutely clear about the priority I attach to the mission in Afghanistan, and about my approach to it. We must never forget why we are there. Al Qaeda used the country as a launch pad to commit the 9/11 attacks. And national security is still the reason we are there: we must never again allow Al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base for terrorism. So the very highest priority for my Coalition Government's new National Security Council has been to set a clear direction for our activities in Afghanistan - something I think we have achieved. Our priorities are to build on the momentum we've achieved in terms of security in the South following the troop surge; to keep up the pace of training the Afghan army and police; and to support the government of Afghanistan in moving forward the political process that in the end will be vital to creating a stable Afghanistan.

What happened to the special relationship?

It is just as strong today as at any time in the last few decades. The United States remains our most important bilateral ally. The relationship between our countries is broadly based and deeply rooted: from our co-operation on defence and intelligence, to our economic and trade relationship, it is vibrant and growing. But we need to ensure that we focus on results, rather than process. In the UK I sometimes feel that as much attention is given to the length of a press conference between a British Prime Minister and a US President as to what they actually agreed upon. We need to keep outcomes front and centre. And there is no better example of the outcomes we are delivering together than the work our troops are doing on the ground in Southern Afghanistan: fighting together, and in some cases dying together, for our national security.

Europe's greatest instability stems from the dangers of the financial markets and the attacks the Euro has to sustain. Is the British Tory government finally vindicated in its criticism of the common currency?

It is no good just blaming the markets. My view has always been that it is difficult to make a single currency work without much more of a single economic policy - and as I do not want that erosion of sovereignty and independence. I do not support the UK joining the single currency. That's why I have been so clear that Britain isn't in the euro, and will not be joining the euro. We will not be dragged into any new arrangements to help support the euro either. Don't get me wrong: I want the eurozone to be strong, I want the eurozone to sort out its problems, and Britain won't stand in the way of eurozone countries if they feel they need to take steps to sort out the recent difficulties. A strong and successful eurozone is in Britain's interests.