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FDP Transatlantic Forum
The New German-American Agenda
Ambassador William R. Timken, Jr.
Berlin, September 25, 2006


As prepared for delivery.

Dr. Mathiopoulos,

Thank you for the invitation to address the Transatlantic Forum. I would like also to congratulate the FDP for the gains the party made in both recent elections. Your positions must be finding receptive audiences.

To speak today upon the relationship between the German and American governments is a much easier task than it might have been several years in the past. Yet I still observe that the absolutely positive, intense working relationship actually taking place today is not widely appreciated by many in Germany. We need to make this clear because this partnership is providing results on many serious world issues.

Earlier this month, the German Marshall Fund released the results of its annual public opinion survey examining American and European attitudes on the transatlantic relationship. This year, there was a focus on issues connected to the 9/11 anniversary and the ability of the U.S. and Europe to cooperate on international challenges like Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, Islamic fundamentalism, promotion of democracy, homeland security, and the role of NATO and the United Nations. The survey shows both Americans and Europeans expressing shared concern over global threats in a way that overrides short-term, partisan political judgments. In fact, Europeans and Americans see the world in very similar ways. They believe that the United States and Europe have a common agenda that is firmly rooted in shared perceptions. This provides a very solid basis on which to work together in a partnership that is strong enough to stand new tests. Many of the 20th century's great international questions were essentially about the political and economic organization of Europe, but the post-9/11 world poses challenges about whether freedom can grow throughout much of the world.

As in any long-term partnership, Europe and the United States have occasional differences, but these are secondary compared to the values and common interests that bind us.

In Washington, there is a strong feeling that Europe and the United States have never before worked together so closely and so effectively. In the last few weeks, we have had numerous visitors including FBI Director Bob Mueller, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nick Burns, and Dan Fried, our Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, to name just a few. They were here to consult with their German colleagues on the important issues of the day.

Chancellor Merkel has been very effective in focusing attention on common strategies and policies. We especially appreciate the steps that she has taken to reinforce the spirit of German-American and transatlantic cooperation but this progress can be dated back to February 23, 2005, when President Bush came to Mainz at the invitation of Chancellor Schroeder.

Both the United States and Germany have made a continuous effort to try to strengthen the foundations of our great friendship and alliance after the difficulties of Iraq.

Every day, we work with our European partners to strengthen anti-terrorist efforts and jointly to help other states improve their counter-terrorist capabilities. Our cooperation extends to information- and intelligence-sharing, dismantling terrorist cells, interdicting terrorist logistics, and pursuing anti-money laundering efforts. We saw proof of the crucial advances that have been made when terrorist plots were exposed in both here in Germany and England.

Many of our strongest multilateral partnerships are with European organizations, such as the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains our principal security alliance. At the start of 1994, NATO was a military alliance of 16 countries, oriented toward countering a Soviet Union that no longer existed; it had never conducted a military operation. By 2004, NATO had 26 members and 31 partnerships across Eurasia, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. It was engaged in eight simultaneous military operations, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, performing tasks ranging from humanitarian assistance to stability operations. NATO is an alliance in action.

NATO is redefining itself in a world where the challenges come not only from states but also from non-state actors such as terrorist networks. Asymmetrical threats, such as the terrorist attacks on September 11 in the U.S., on March 11 in Madrid, and July 7 in London, but also the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction now command our attention.

NATO is transforming itself to become more proactive than reactive, more expeditionary than static and more diverse in its capabilities. This also means stronger partnerships and closer relations with international organizations. The United States has been clear that a strong Europe is in our interests and is good for NATO.

It is crucial to develop more effective consultative mechanisms between NATO and the EU and ensure that we avoid wasteful duplication. Last week, at the Atlantik Bruecke’s annual EUCOM command conference, one of the major issues of debate with our German partners was how we can deal with the NATO Response Force and other standing reaction forces, such as the EU’s battle groups, when we are finding it hard to generate forces for current operations. As NATO Commander General Jones has said, “Vision without funding is hallucination.” It seems to me we cannot get around the resource constraints and the need for greater defense spending among European Allies, which I believe Germany recognizes as well.

In Afghanistan, we appreciate the fact that NATO countries have stepped up. But clearly more is needed. The Taliban and the drug lords will succeed if Afghanistan does not get the support that it needs. We cannot let this happen. The U.S.-European partnership provides critical support for the rapid, historic transformation of Afghanistan, which remains under pressure from terrorists. U.S.-European cooperation in the war on terror starts with giving Afghanistan the chance to build a democratic and prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbors. German forces have played a major role in the operations in Afghanistan. We appreciate this very much.

We are cooperating on all the major crises in the Middle East.

We appreciate Chancellor Merkel’s willingness to allow the Bundeswehr to participate in UN peacekeeping operations but also acknowledge some of the issues that have been raised, particularly by the FDP.

When Hezbollah attacked Israel on July 12, 2006, we witnessed a month of terrible human suffering with thousands of dead and wounded and damage to infrastructure in both Lebanon and Israel. The United Nations Security Council's unanimous adoption of Resolution 1701 on August 11 brought an end to the hostilities and outlined a way forward to build a lasting and sustainable peace. In accord with the resolution, the Lebanese Armed forces, supported by international peacekeepers, are securing Lebanese territory to cut off arms smuggling and protect the Lebanese people. In some places, this is the first time Lebanese Government troops have been there in almost 40 years.

We welcome the decision made by the European Union to take rapid action to deploy the United Nations Interim Force of Lebanon to help Lebanon's legitimate armed forces restore the sovereignty of its democratic government throughout the country and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state. The rapid deployment of an expanded UNIFIL force to Lebanon will help that country secure its borders and facilitate the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon. It will also allow the legitimate armed forces of the democratically elected government of Lebanon to operate throughout the Lebanese territory. We continue to call on the international community, Iran and Syria in particular, to meet the international legal obligations contained in the resolution and prevent illicit arms shipments to Hezbollah or any other unauthorized group in Lebanon.

We are also working very closely on the issue of Iran. Iran failed to meet the August 31 deadline on suspending proscribed nuclear activities as specified in UN Security Council Resolution 1696. The Iranian regime has made the decision to defy an historic moment of opportunity to make a peaceful, positive choice and resume constructive diplomatic dialogue on its nuclear program. We are very disappointed that Iran appears to have rejected this opportunity to make a responsible choice in the best interests of its own people and the community of nations.

The international community came together to give Iran the opportunity to make a genuine commitment to suspend all enrichment-related reprocessing activities and fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The positive choice would have led to many political and economic benefits for the Iranian people, and greater security for the region and the world. Negotiations would allow Iran to pursue peaceful nuclear energy for the Iranian people and offered progressively greater economic cooperation with the rest of the world. The United States joined with our international partners in direct talks with Iran. The offer on the part of the United States to participate in direct talks underscored the U.S. commitment to a diplomatic solution. It removed Iran's last excuse.

The core element the world has put forward to the Iranians is this: suspend your enrichment-related activities and we will suspend activity in the Security Council. That deal still holds. It couldn't be simpler. It's not complicated. They want to make it about the US and Iran, it's not; it's about Iran's behavior.

In another area, Iraq, cooperation is also very, very good. Europe and the United States support the new democratically elected government of Iraq and its efforts to bring security, prosperity, and lasting democracy to the Iraqi people. In 2003 we were divided because we disagreed over whether or not to go to war. That was an honest disagreement. In 2006 and 2007 I don’t see any dramatic U.S.–European divergence on what our strategic goals should be. We all want to support stability, democracy, and development in Iraq, and we want to see Iraq produce a foreign policy that is consistent with stability in the wider Middle East region. Success in Iraq is in our common interest, and will set the stage for the advance of freedom in the heart of the Middle East.

Skeptics have offered theories of divergent interests, strategic drift, or even a budding rivalry. These theories dissolve before the reality of close policy cooperation on issues ranging from the Middle East to working with the Soviet Union and the young, still vulnerable democracies in Ukraine and Georgia on the Frontier of Freedom.

The United States and Europe have joined together to resolve the last major issue in the region: Kosovo's final status.

The United States and European allies are working together to achieve a final peace agreement in Southern Sudan.

The United States and Europe join other countries in agreeing to take effective measures to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction. We have steadily increased law enforcement cooperation, working together to combat organized criminal activity.

The United States and Europe advance global prosperity through our commitment to open markets, a stable and reliable financial system, and integration of the global economy. We are each other's largest trade and investment partners. Our economies account for more than half the global GDP and one-third of global trade, generating roughly $2.5 trillion in annual commercial sales and employing an estimated 12-14 million workers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The United States and Europe are working together on an international strategy to prevent the spread of avian flu.

Americans and Europeans have made the fight against HIV/AIDS a top priority.

The United States and its European partners are working closely to increase energy security. At the 2006 U.S.-EU Vienna Summit, both parties agreed to address jointly the problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution.

I am going to stop now but I think I have made my point that never before have Europe and the United States worked so closely and so effectively.

The hard-won knowledge that freedom, security, and prosperity within the Euro-Atlantic community depend on their extension throughout the world drive our mutual commitment to promote democracy and freedom, bring peace to troubled regions, and foster global prosperity.


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Updated: June 2008