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
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
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
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
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.