Germany Will Give Its Unreserved Support to the United States
Policy Statement by Chancellor Schröder
September 19, 2001
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my Policy Statement of 12 September I said that this is not
just a war against the United States, but a war against the civilized
world. I stand by those words.
Is this the "clash of civilizations" that has so often
been spoken of? My answer is clear. It is "no".
What we have here is not a "clash of civilizations"
but a struggle to protect civilization in this one world. We are
aware of the diversity of the world's civilizations, and we respect
them all. But we must insist that the principles of the American
Declaration of Independence apply universally.
There it is written: "We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
These principles, even if they are the legacy of the Christian
West and did not develop without a number of disastrous aberrations,
do not conflict with an interpretation of Islam free of fundamentalist
frenzy. Such faceless, barbaric terrorism is directed against
the very fabric that binds our world together: respect for human
life and human dignity, the values of liberty, tolerance, democracy
and the peaceful balancing of interests.
In the face of this unprecedented attack Germany will give its
unreserved support to the United States of America. Our statements
of political and moral solidarity with the US are at the present
time more than just a matter of course. Here in Berlin, in particular,
we Germans will never forget what the United States has done for
us. It was the Americans who contributed so crucially to the victory
over National Socialism. And it was our American friends who,
after World War II, enabled us to make a fresh start in freedom
and democracy. They guaranteed and protected not just the survival,
but also the liberty of West Berlin. And they helped us restore
our national unity in a peaceful, democratic Europe.
But we must make it clear that while gratitude is an important
and weighty factor, it does not suffice to legitimize fundamental
decisions of principle. In such decisions we are led by one goal
only, that of ensuring the future of our country as part of a
And that is the heart of the matter. The world has reacted to
the barbaric attacks. In a manner unusually unanimous and unambiguous.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously stated in its
seminal Resolution 1368 that the terrorist attacks on New York
and Washington present a threat to international peace and security,
thus establishing the conditions under international law for resolute
action against terrorism. The NATO Council expressed its full
solidarity with the United States on the basis of Article 5 of
the NATO Treaty. The attack on the US is an attack on all NATO
partners. The NATO Council adopted this decision with our full
support. It follows the letter and spirit of the NATO Treaty.
NATO has not yet decided on any concrete action. A decision on
concrete action requires a prior determination that the attacks
on New York and Washington were attacks from outside NATO. Moreover,
a specific request for support must be made by the United States.
This has not yet been the case.
What rights do these decisions create for the United States?
On the basis of the Security Council resolution the United States
can take measures against the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors
of the attacks. And, under the terms of the resolution, which
further develops international law, they can and may take equally
resolute action against states which aid, support or harbour terrorists.
What effect does this have on the Allies' obligations?
All Allies have expressed their moral and political solidarity.
This is only natural. We still do not know if the United States
expects and will request support from the NATO partners, and if
so, what kind of support. It could be military support. This option
is not, and cannot be, excluded. Whatever form of support we are
asked to provide, the Basic Law and the rulings of the Federal
Constitutional Court will of course be respected.
Naturally, every right has its corresponding duty. But the reverse
is also true: any Alliance obligation corresponds to a right.
In this case a right to information and consultation. What we
as Germans and Europeans wish to achieve is unreserved solidarity
with the US with respect to all necessary measures. Germany is
prepared to take risks, even military ones, but it is not prepared
to embark on any reckless adventure. Thanks to the prudent conduct
of the American Administration, we have not been called upon to
embark on any such adventure, and surely will not be in the future.
This form of solidarity is what we have learnt from our history,
a lesson which was bitter enough for the civilized world. A fixation
on purely military means would be fatal.
We Europeans must further strengthen our cooperation in the fight
against terrorism. Now is the time for Europe to speak with one
voice. At my suggestion Mr Verhofstadt, the Belgian President
of the EU Council, has called a special session of the European
Council for Friday at which we will discuss the further position
of the European Union on the fight against terrorism. Our goal
has to be the integration of as many countries as possible in
a worldwide system of security and prosperity. To this end we
want to provide incentives within the framework of development
cooperation to states which declare their willingness to cooperate
in the battle against terrorism. We have to and we want to develop
a comprehensive concept for crisis prevention and management.
This concept must be based on political, economic, cultural and
We must create the basis for political and economic stabilization
and stability for the crisis regions in the Middle East and Central
Asia with such a concept. Above all, we must now join forces to
do all we can to achieve a breakthrough for peace in the Middle
East. The Federal Foreign Minister has already taken the initiative
on several occasions to persuade the parties to the conflict to
end the violence and resume their talks. His spirited engagement
in this conflict is the best proof of our willingness to stand
by the parties on their way to peace. Yesterday the international
mediation efforts led to a first success. President Arafat ordered
his troops to obey a strict cease-fire. In return, Prime Minister
Sharon of Israel ordered Israeli troops to withdraw from the Palestinian
This development is an encouraging step in a difficult situation.
It will facilitate international efforts to forge an alliance
against terrorism. We have to continue dialogue with the moderate
leaders of the Arab world to this end. Over the last few days
I thus kept in touch with King Abdullah of Jordan and the Egyptian
President Mubarak. A further round of talks with the Egyptian
President in Berlin next Tuesday will also serve this purpose.
Furthermore the Federal Government will also use its existing
contacts with key regional powers such as Syria and Iran to persuade
them to cooperate on combating terrorism. It cannot be said often
enough: we are not at war with any one state. And we are not at
war with the entire Islamic world.
The terrorists declared war on us and they will be called to
account for doing so. The attacks in New York and Washington have
nothing to do with religion. They are the expression of a criminal
mindset. The appalling disrespect of human life is a declaration
of war against all of civilization. Thus the Islamic states and
religious communities too face the task of outlawing and fighting
terrorists and fanatics with the utmost determination. They must
leave absolutely no doubt that there is no political or religious
justification for terrorist violence.
Many people in our country are asking about the possible repercussions
of the terrorist attacks. The Federal Government is aware of these
concerns. And we are taking them very seriously. But we also say:
based on current assessments there is no reason to be afraid or
to panic. The Federal Government and the security authorities
reacted resolutely and continue to be vigilant. We are not in
a national state of emergency. The immediate conclusions which
we had to draw from the tragic events were and are being drawn.
For example air traffic safety, both on the ground and in the
air, is being optimized. We have taken appropriate precautions
and have received the necessary consent from the private air traffic
companies. This involves making the cockpit more secure as well
as improving baggage checks, checking the background of employees
in airports or having security staff escort German aircraft.
Our intelligence services have done a good job thus far combating
international terrorism. In close cooperation with their American
and European counterparts, they have been able to prevent attacks
and disclose terrorist structures. In the past their investigations
also brought about the arrest of Osama bin Laden's then finance
We will continue to have to pay particular attention to the financial
structures of terrorist networks. It is our job to seek out and
disrupt these flows of finance. The financing of terror must not
become the dark side of free world trade and free capital flows.
Similarly we will have to keep a keener eye on the financing of
terror under the guise of charity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As early as this afternoon we will adopt a package of measures
in the Federal Cabinet to optimize the fight against terrorism
in the light of new findings.
This includes an amendment to criminal law which makes it possible
in future to prosecute those who support criminal organizations
from abroad just like the members and sponsors of such organizations
at home. This also includes the abolition of the privileges accorded
to religious groups under the law of associations. Because the
freedom of religion and belief guaranteed in the Basic Law must
not protect those who abuse religion to scheme murder and terror.
We will improve the quality and efficiency of the fight against
terrorism. But under no circumstances will we restrict, let alone
abolish the rule of law in order to fight terror. Our battle against
terrorism is a defence of our open society, our liberties, our
way of life. Terrorism will not reduce us to calling into question
the very values which we defend against terrorism. And terrorism
must not and will not stop us from passing a modern immigration
law geared to the needs of our economy. We have initiated an up-to-date
immigration law with the draft bill tabled by the German Minister
of the Interior. The law is urgently needed in Germany. Now more
than ever, a meaningful policy on foreigners, immigration and
integration needs a carefully considered legal instrument. For
immigration will not steer and regulate itself. Needless to say,
we are open to suggestions of rewording here and there. Necessary
additions and amendments can also still be undertaken in the ongoing
parliamentary procedure. Particularly in the current situation,
the strengths and advantages of this bill become abundantly clear.
This law brings more security, for example through German missions
abroad conducting background checks before visas are granted.
The new regulation also makes it easier to distinguish between
people who can gain the right of residence and those for whom
this is not the case. All those involved will receive information
faster on their situation and the consequences. Thus far fewer
people with no definite perspective of residence will live here.
Immigration, the protection of refugees and integration is an
issue not just in Germany. Our European partners are also discussing
these questions. As far as figures are concerned, we have not
been at the top of the table in Europe for a long time. Nevertheless,
as a country at the centre of Europe we have a considerable interest
in adopting viable regulations for immigration at European level.
We can contribute to this with our own debate.
Like so many other nations Germany, too, has been directly affected
by the terrorist attacks in the US. We are mourning many Germans
who met a terrible death in the hijacked aeroplanes or in the
World Trade Center. We still do not know the exact numbers.
There can be no doubt: many of our compatriots are frightened.
They are afraid of terror. Afraid of war. This fear may be exaggerated
or even unfounded. But it is there nevertheless and affects the
people in our country. The very young and particularly those who
have experienced and suffered war. I think I can understand this
fear. But we must not let it paralyze us. My task is to help turn
fear into confidence. And I am convinced that there is reason
to be confident.
At the start of this new century, Germany is on the right side.
On the side of the inalienable rights of all people. These human
rights are the towering achievement and the bequest of European
Enlightenment. These values - human dignity, democracy based on
freedom, and tolerance - are our great strengths in the battle
against terrorism. That is what keeps our community of peoples
and nations together - and what the terrorists wanted to destroy.
These values are our identity. We will defend them, with vigour