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Our Responsibility for Peace

Our Responsibility for Peace

Policy Statement delivered by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the Bundestag on the current international situation. Berlin, Thursday, February 13, 2003. Translated by BPA, Berlin.

Mr President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • Germany bears a share of the responsibility:

A share of the responsibility in the fight against international terrorism.

A share of the responsibility for the implementation of Iraq's unconditional disarmament.

And a share of the responsibility for peace.

Germany bears this responsibility together with other member states of the United Nations and will steadfastly continue to do so.

Germany stands by its Alliance obligations within NATO. If a partner is attacked we will defend it. We have demonstrated that and we will uphold this commitment.

10,000 men and women from the Federal Armed Forces are now engaged in missions abroad aimed at guaranteeing freedom and security. In the Balkans, in Afghanistan and within the framework of "Enduring Freedom".

For this they deserve our great respect and our heartfelt thanks.

We are doing our duty for peace. Together with France, Russia and others, the Federal Government is making every effort to resolve the conflict with Iraq peacefully. That is possible.

That is what we are struggling to achieve.

Stating this clearly - both to our citizens and to our American friends - is my responsibility as Federal Chancellor.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The fight against international terrorism continues to demand our full attention. We can win this fight. Indeed, in the interests of the security of people and of peace in the world, we must win it. By no means have we already won it. That is why our special troops are fighting this battle side by side with the Americans.

On Monday the German troops in Kabul officially assumed command of ISAF, the United Nations security assistance force. Up to 2,500 soldiers are doing their work, and they are doing it well.

I want us to say this with self-confidence to our people, as well as to our NATO partners. Few NATO members are doing what we are doing. That must not be forgotten.

In sending these soldiers, we as a Government, and as members of the German Bundestag, have assumed a great responsibility towards those involved and their families.

Our citizens, and people all over the world, have a right to know that we will never make any decision on the use of military force and the deployment of troops lightly.

And we will never leave any doubt that we make such decisions solely on the basis of firm principles.

Principles which are universal and which guide us in our actions, as well as in our alliances. The principles of freedom, peace and justice.

However, it will also be clear that we are making these decisions as a sovereign state and that means on our own responsibility.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Federal Republic of Germany has assumed a measure of international responsibility which would have been inconceivable only a few years ago: in the Balkans and, above all however, following the horrendous terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington.

We have increased Germany's contribution towards safeguarding and stabilizing peace tenfold since 1998: from 200 million to 2 billion euro annually.

Today, Germany provides the second largest troop contingent to international missions aimed at securing and safeguarding peace after the United States.

All in all, more than 100,000 German soldiers have risked their health, indeed their lives, in such missions since 1998.

There cannot and must not be any alternative to this policy of solidarity. However, solidarity also creates the right, indeed the duty, to make distinctions.

It should go without saying that, in the face of the continued danger posed by the international terrorism of al Qaida, all measures and decisions must be examined with a view to establishing whether they will benefit or damage the fight against this terrorism.

Naturally, that also applies to the current crisis in Iraq.

Those who want to resolve the crisis with military means must have an answer to the question as to whether this will help the global alliance against terrorism, which, it should be noted, includes about fifty Moslem states, or whether it would jeopardize this alliance, or perhaps even destroy it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The policy of the Federal Government has always been a peace policy. This applies to the reconstruction in Afghanistan and to our efforts - which we must not slacken - to bring about lasting peace and security in the Middle East.

  • The foremost task of international politics is to prevent wars. We are guided by this principle.

No realpolitik and no security doctrine should lead us to slowly get used once more to regarding war as a, as it were, normal political instrument.

And also as the final means of conflict resolution, the use of military force is subject to strict restrictions.

In particular, self-defence against an imminent armed attack or averting a direct serious danger to world peace mandated by the Security Council are exceptions.

International law as we know it today has developed in keeping with these tenets in a process which has lasted centuries. The United Nations Charter is founded on this principle of the renunciation of violence.

The United States of America has time and again been a driving force in this process - just think of Wilson or Roosevelt.

  • The core of this process is the principle of replacing the law of the strong with the strength of the law.

This is the shared foundation of values that binds us so securely to our American friends.

The transatlantic friendship was never a marriage of convenience between pusillanimous partners. It is and remains a community of values.

The basis of this community of values will not be undermined by occasional differences of opinion.

It is a long time since Germans and Americans were bound solely by the gratitude we feel for our liberation from the Nazi dictatorship and the opportunity the US provided for democratic reconstruction.

We are bound by our common cultural heritage, which extends deep into the everyday lives of our people.

And we are united by a friendship that is based on mutual respect and the pursuit of common aims. And which therefore must withstand differences of opinion on important issues.

Today's dispute is not about details of security policy. Nor about apparent strategic or economic benefits. And certainly not about the "to be or not to be" of NATO. But it is about whether we can still form opinions multilaterally. It is about the role to be played by Europe, the whole of Europe.

That this continent cannot play its role without the closest of cooperation between France and Germany was once a belief shared by the entire Bundestag.

The present debate is thus about the best way of preserving the continuity of our shared principles - and by that I mean above all the principle of a legal order which is universal and conducive to peace.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This question is now being posed in the Gulf. The responsibility for how it is to be answered lies with the regime in Baghdad.

  • We are under no illusions as regards the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Our job is to ensure that Iraq eliminates the obstacles to peaceful development and the rule of law that have been erected by its regime.

The demands of the international community for unconditional disarmament by Iraq and its full and active cooperation with the weapons inspectors thus have our unreserved support.

In Resolution 687, the UN Security Council in April 1991 set out the binding objectives "of achieving balanced and comprehensive control of armaments in the region" and "the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of [all] weapons [of mass destruction]".

The disarmament incumbent upon the Iraqi regime is thus a first step towards these objectives. Iraq's repeated violations of UN resolutions have however obstructed progress towards this goal.

Therefore, with resolution 1441 of 8 November 2002, the Security Council unanimously decided that Iraq has to provide a full and complete account and to unconditionally and verifiably destroy all of its remaining weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

  • Germany supports this resolution and has from the beginning played an active role in its implementation:

We have made personnel available, as well as equipment and information for the weapons inspectors.

We support resolution 1441 and its objectives as both a member and the current holder of the chair of the Security Council.

This resolution does not contain any automatic trigger for the use of military force. If the Chairperson of the CDU claims otherwise, as she did at the Conference on Security Policy, she is misguided, and she is misleading the people.

The monopoly on the decision to use force must remain in the hands of the Security Council. On this point we are in agreement with our partners in Europe and elsewhere.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The latest mission by the inspectors to Baghdad has, as far as we can tell, enabled significant progress to be made.

The inspectors, who will again tomorrow report to the Security Council, have never doubted the necessary scope of their mission. We must enable them to conclude their work successfully.

As we stressed in our joint statement with France and Russia, which was supported by China and is in line with the views held by further members of the Security Council, in this phase the aim must be to exhaust all possible options for a peaceful solution.

  • The inspections must be continued and increased.

Our own history has taught us that profound change can often only be achieved through long-term processes.

The peaceful end of the Cold War is indeed also proof that the policy of containment and deterrence works.

Without a military option even being considered, it ultimately proved possible to achieve freedom, peace and the rule of law.

The crucial factor in this process was our unwavering commitment to our values and principles within the framework of the Western alliance.

Even if there were internal differences of opinion, our common dedication to the goal of peace and freedom on our continent could not be dented.

Today, too, we have expressly stated that we will live up to our Alliance commitments and are indeed actively fulfilling them. The Alliance assists partners in danger.

Turkey, too, can at all times rely on our solidarity to protect it from danger. We have in fact already met the demands which have been made in NATO. In December, I publicly announced that German AWACS crews were available to protect Turkey. Together with the Netherlands we will provide Turkey with the most modern missile defence equipment available in Europe - the Patriot system.

We have, by the way, also supplied this system to Israel.

German soldiers have since the end of January been protecting American bases, airfields and facilities. Some 1,000 German soldiers are already deployed on such tasks.

This is one of the reasons why we, along with our friends in France and Belgium, do not feel that a formal NATO decision on war plans is appropriate in anticipation of further debate by the Security Council.

Solidarity with Turkey, and solidarity in the Alliance is not something we would call into question. But, unlike you and your political allies, we believe that it is vital to act in unity with France. German policies must never isolate the French.

  • We all want to disarm Iraq.

Our differences of opinion relate to the choice of means to implement this goal and the time-scale envisaged before it is achieved.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the Federal Foreign Minister stated in the Security Council, more of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were verifiably destroyed during the inspections between 1991 and 1998 than during the entire Gulf war.

Thus all the evidence suggests that monitored disarmament and effective inspections are indeed a viable means of eliminating the danger presented by weapons of mass destruction.

Anyone who nevertheless now gives priority to a military solution must provide a credible explanation that there is no alternative to war.

But to repeat what I said earlier: the Federal Government, together with France, Russia, China and numerous other states, is expressly not of this opinion.

Like our European partners and the United States we want to help establish a lasting and stable peace in the Middle East.

The security of Israel is one element of this, as is an independent, viable and democratic State of Palestine.

A military conflict in Iraq would not in our opinion facilitate this process, but would rather complicate it and draw it out.

A military confrontation and the occupation of Iraq would presumably further reduce the readiness of the Arab world to embark upon reforms and dialogue and would increase the danger of terrorist attacks.

If I, and with me Foreign Minister Fischer, so passionately fight to give peace a chance, this is due not least to our deep concern for Israel and the consequences it might face.

A new wave of suicide bombings with the horrendous suffering this would bring to the citizens of Israel, and indirectly to the Palestinian people as well as a result of Israeli retaliation, is something that we in particular must try to prevent.

One of the essential reasons why the United States and we managed to forge a broad coalition against terrorism after 11 September 2001 was the rejection of any semblance of a "clash of civilizations" or a "Western" campaign against "Islam".

If we now declare the Iraqi disarmament process and the search for a peaceful solution to have failed we would help increase the number of fanatics and encourage them to preach and bomb us into such a conflict between the civilizations with their heinous attacks.

But we insist here on the integrity of all civilizations against the violence of terrorists and on the supremacy of a peaceful order rooted in law.

This is precisely why it is our bounden duty to leave no stone unturned in the search for a peaceful solution. This is the position of the Federal Government and its partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  • The alternative is not in fact: war or inaction.

Those who reject war are not condemned to appeasement.

  • Our immediate approach is essentially geared to five points:

Firstly, Resolution 1441 does not contain any automatism to the use of military force. The priority task is to exhaust all resources for peaceful conflict resolution and optimize their use.

Secondly, Iraq has to cooperate fully and actively with the Security Council and the weapons inspectors. We need unequivocal clarity on Iraqi-owned weapons of mass destruction and, in so far as these exist, their final disarmament.

Thirdly, decision-making competence on the progress of the inspections and any possible consequences lies exclusively with the United Nations Security Council.

Fourthly, an effective inspection and verification regime is and remains the decisive instrument for the elimination of prohibited Iraqi arms programmes. It has to be extended and strengthened in line with current needs.

Fifthly, our aim is to create lasting structures to contain the dangers emanating from Iraq and disarm and stabilize the entire region.

The French Foreign Minister presented proposals in the UN Security Council on 5 February aiming to create a more effective inspection regime.

France has in the meantime fleshed out these proposals. Ultimately, it is a matter of

  • doubling or tripling the number of inspectors;
  • increasing and diversifying their equipment including technical material, infrastructure and specially qualified personnel;
  • specifying and strengthening the coordination, reconnaissance and intervention possibilities of the inspectors.
  • The Federal Government expressly supports these proposals.

In parallel, we are working with France and other partners on proposals for peaceful, full and lasting disarmament.

These proposals include inter alia the long-term monitoring of relevant facilities and effective export control, but also of the end use of critical goods, involving above all, but not only, the neighbouring countries.

Inspections and controls ought also to mean that we use findings on the trafficking of prohibited agents and components, as well as on respective trading routes, for the global fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq's neighbouring countries have to be more closely involved. The explosive situation in the region as well as the arms potential available there demand comprehensive cooperation.

We must not and will not release Iraq's neighbours and its partners in the Arab League from their responsibility for a peaceful solution.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We will live up to our responsibility for keeping the peace.

It cannot be wrong to undertake extraordinary efforts even for the smallest possible chance of peace. This view is shared incidentally by most of our European neighbours and most of the members of the Security Council.

Therefore we also support the proposal of the Greek Presidency of the EU to hold a special summit on Monday. The European Union owes it to its citizens to agree on a joint position on the question of war and peace.

Germany is prepared to make available all the means we can mobilize for a sustainable, tougher inspection regime guaranteeing exhaustive disarmament control.

We will identify the best methods in close cooperation with the inspectors and our partners in the Security Council.

We are firmly convinced: There are still alternatives. It is not too late to achieve the peaceful disarmament of the Iraqi regime. Not only in the Security Council, not only in the European Union, but also in the German Bundestag we will continue to work towards a broad majority for a common position in the interest of our country.

The citizens in our country, just like our friends and allies, have a right to receive clear answers from us. Particularly to the question as to whether we will participate in military action.

  • The Federal Government has said "no" to this question. This will not change.

But above all they must have confidence that we are undertaking all conceivable endeavours to find a peaceful solution.

I will not accept that the only alternatives are waging a war with friends or giving peace a chance without them.

We can disarm Iraq without war. I am responsible for using this chance.

Of course, there is a coalition of the willing for a war in our country, too. The CDU/CSU are part of this coalition. Together with the majority of the German people, we stand tall against you with our courage for peace.

This is the mandate the Red-Green Government was given on 22 September 2002. On this we shall not waver.

Thank you.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).