Side by Side


Alliance Solidarity Is Not a One-Way Street


Alliance Solidarity Is Not a One-Way Street

Policy Statement by Chancellor Schröder
November 8, 2001

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

"The German Bundestag endorses the Government's intention to follow up its declarations of unqualified solidarity with the United States with concrete measures of support. These include political and economic assistance as well as the provision of suitable military capabilities to combat international terrorism." This resolution was adopted by the German Bundestag already on 19 September with an overwhelming majority embracing all parliamentary parties.

Let us recall that the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1368, which is binding under international law, on the very day after the terrorist attacks. That resolution stated that the attacks constituted a threat to international peace and security and thus justified the exercise of the right to self defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. On 4 October the NATO Council declared for the first time in the Alliance's history that grounds existed for invoking the commitment to provide mutual assistance under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. The Alliance immediately took initial steps in support of the United States of America. The Federal Republic of Germany had thus specifically committed itself to contributing to the measures to combat terrorism.

On 7 October the United States, supported by Great Britain, launched the military operation known as Enduring Freedom. The US Administration has now approached us with a specific request. It covers the provision of ABC defence forces, a unit to evacuate the wounded, special forces of the Bundeswehr, air transport facilities as well as naval forces - for instance to keep shipping lanes open and to protect vessels with hazardous cargoes. The Federal Cabinet decided yesterday to comply with this request.

We are thus doing what is expected of us, what we are actually capable of doing, and what we can answer for politically in this situation. All in all we will be making available at the most 3,900 German servicemen. It is, however, unlikely they will all have to be sent into action at the same time. Their mandate is limited to 12 months. If it had to be extended the Bundestag would have to consider the matter again. Initially, it is only a question of making German forces available, although we are already asking the Bundestag to approve of any future decision to involve them in military operations.

There is nothing new about this procedure. The Bundestag did exactly the same thing as regards the decision of 16 October 1998 concerning operations in Kosovo, entirely in keeping with the constitution. I would like to emphasize that we will not participate in air strikes or deploy combat troops on the ground. The contribution we want to make is also an expression of our readiness to live up to Germany's growing international responsibility. This is in our country's own interests as well.

Naturally, many people in Germany are now anxiously asking what the consequences will be for our country - and especially for our servicemen. There is no definite answer. I am fully aware that all deployments overseas are risky and dangerous. But let me be perfectly clear: we will do all we possibly can to ensure the safety of our military personnel. We are not the only ones to have been asked to meet their obligation by providing military support as well. Canada and Australia are among the countries involved, but also Turkey, the Czech Republic and our European partners France, Italy and Britain.

The military operations are based on Security Council resolution 1368 and directed at the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden and the Taleban regime in Afghanistan which is supporting terrorism. Let us not forget that this is a tyrannical regime which is responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Afghans, for oppression and mass expulsions, and also for acts of cultural barbarity. Moreover, it promotes terrorist activities with the aim of undermining the stability of Arab and Muslim countries.

But let me say it yet again: the battle against terrorism cannot be won with military means alone. To meet this challenge we must make continuous efforts on many different levels. We therefore cannot and should not discuss the military contribution as something separate from such a comprehensive strategy for maintaining security and stability.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On my visit to Pakistan, India, China and Russia last week there was broad agreement that removal of the Taleban regime is essential for the restoration of humane conditions in Afghanistan. This constitutes a tremendous long-term task for the community of nations, including the European Union. First and foremost it will require a massive humanitarian effort to ease the suffering of millions of Afghans. Many people appear not to be fully aware of the extent of the catastrophe. Be that as it may, we must and will redouble our efforts to alleviate the hunger and want of the population and the refugees. The task of reconstruction will also require comprehensive economic aid.

Last but not least, we will have to help establish the basic conditions for peaceful relations between Afghanistan's various ethnic groups. Together with our European partners we favour a solution which will be generated in Afghanistan itself, a solution which embraces all ethnic groups and takes account of the legitimate interests of neighbouring states. This solution should be pursued under the aegis of the United Nations. Germany will not be found wanting in this process.

We intend at the same time to extend our cooperation with the nations of Central Asia. Our aim is to prevent destabilization as a result of the terrorism originating in Afghanistan. For this we require a broad-ranging concept covering not only political dialogue but also economic and development cooperation.

Nor should we relent in our efforts to settle the Middle East conflict. The fact that no solution has yet been found must not be taken as an excuse by terrorists for their heinous activities. The Foreign Minister deserves our respect and credit for his untiring efforts to patch up the differences in the region. At my meeting with European colleagues on Sunday all agreed that the alarming situation in the Middle East required the input of the United States, the European Union and Russia at the highest level.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Stamping out international terrorism will require huge efforts and much staying power. It is in our common interest to bring the military operation to a speedy and successful conclusion. We expressly welcome the assurances of the US Administration that it will do everything possible to prevent civilian causalities. Our humanitarian endeavours are a clear indication that the military operations are not directed against the Afghan people but against terrorism. Germany alone has already provided humanitarian aid in excess of 100 million marks over the last few years. Afghanistan has always been one of the main recipients of that aid, and this is one of the reasons why we are this year chairing the Afghanistan Support Group.

At least as important as military and humanitarian action is the political and diplomatic commitment. In addition there are the economic measures and the necessary cooperation among the intelligent services. After all, we must also confront terrorism on the psychological and intellectual level. This means above all facing up to the fact that terrorists instrumentalize cultural, social and political shortcomings for their murderous purposes. We shall have to conduct this intellectual struggle in dialogue with the Muslim societies, although they too will have to deliver on their own responsibility so that we can together achieve the aim of peaceful and humane development.

Only on the basis of such a broad-raging concept and joint action will the international coalition prevail in the fight against terrorism. In that fight we face a great challenge. It is not devoid of risk, but it gives us the opportunity to eliminate once and for all the dangers that threaten the peaceful existence and coexistence of nations at the beginning of the 21st century.

But let me say in conclusion that another reason for our decision was to show that Germany is capable of meeting its obligations to the Alliance. For more than 50 years the United States has given us its solid support. It was the Americans who made it possible for us to rejoin the international community, who guaranteed our freedom and helped us regain our national unity. Over many decades we have taken American solidarity for granted and used it to our advantage.

But Alliance solidarity is not a one-way street. That is why we must now render our practical contribution to that solidarity - the purpose of which, after all, is to defend our common values, attain common objectives, and build our future together in security and freedom. We do this in open, democratic and also critical discussion, but ultimately also, I hope, in great unison.