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German, New Zealand research institutes sign Antarctic deal

May 4, 2024

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with her New Zealand counterpart in Auckland, where they witnessed the signing of an understanding to expand scientific cooperation in Antarctica.

A pair of emperor penguins with an Adelie penguin in Antarctica
The Antarctic is getting increasingly crowded with research basesImage: Michael Nolan/robertharding/picture alliance

New Zealand signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute in an effort to foster cooperation in the South Pole.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with her New Zealand counterpart Winston Peters on Saturday in Auckland, where they witnessed the signing between Antarctica New Zealand and the Wegener Institute.

The institute is Germany's largest scientific institute and coordinates German polar research efforts, according to its website.

"Antarctica is of increasing geostrategic and scientific interest, and this arrangement will broaden connections between our marine and polar science institutes," Peters said. 

Foreign ministers of Germany and New Zealand oversea the signing of the MOU on cooperation in Antarctica
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in New Zealand on Friday from AustraliaImage: Florian Gaertner/photothek/IMAGO

In February, New Zealand said it was reassessing a proposed overhaul of its decades-old base in Antarctica after talks with a construction firm stalled. It had initially announced plans to revamp the base in 2019.

The Antarctic is becoming increasingly crowded with China opening its fifth research base there in February. Western governments worry China's growing Antarctic presence could lead to better surveillance capabilities for the People's Liberation Army. 

Baerbock's trip to New Zealand

Apart from the Antarctic research base deal, the two foreign ministers discussed the need for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and enhanced cooperation in the Pacific, Peters said.

"New Zealand and Germany enjoy shared interests and values, including the rule of law, democracy, respect for the international system and human rights," he said.

Before arriving in New Zealand, Baerbock met Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong. 

Antarctica: world’s largest iceberg on the move

mk/sms (DPA, Reuters) 

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