In the past 15 years, the world has changed at breathtaking speed.
Europe's divide has been overcome by peaceful revolution, and the
dangerous confrontation between East and West has come to a very happy
conclusion. But it was an illusion to believe that also history had
come to an end. Humanity now faces new threats from international
terrorism, the full dimension of which we had never previously
imagined. In a changing world, certain aspects of Transatlantic
cooperation may also change.
For example Germany has in recent years assumed far-reaching
responsibilities in military operations abroad. Currently, Germany
deploys about 8,000 soldiers in peacekeeping missions throughout the
world, from Afghanistan to Kosovo. This would have been inconceivable
during the long period of the Cold War, and nobody would have dared to
predict that it would be undertaken by a "red-green coalition" of
social democrats and environmentalists.
Even if some aspects of Transatlantic cooperation may change the
foundations of the relationship remain the same. Americans and
Europeans share the same values; they are joined in the conviction
that freedom, peace and justice cannot be separated and that each
individual has a unique dignity that gives him or her, as a free
citizen, the same basic rights.
Americans and Europeans are just as close when it comes to questions
of security and counter-terrorism. We must be conscious of the fact
that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were directed not
only against the United States but against the entire civilized world.
The alliance between Americans and Europeans is not an alliance of
convenience, but a partnership between friends. In the fight against
terrorism, the U.S. and German administrations maintain close contacts
at very high levels. Our security agencies work together effectively
and on the basis of the greatest mutual trust. That includes learning
from each other, cooperating to improve terrorist-fighting techniques
and looking for the best available practices.
The European Union is much more than an economic and currency union.
Europe is committed to becoming an "area of freedom, security and
justice," an objective that is specifically stated in the European
treaties. The heart of this area is currently composed of the 13
states that have signed the Schengen agreement, which has opened the
Union's internal borders and established a common external frontier.
The Schengen system has to be improved and reshaped. In future, visas
and residents' permits for the Schengen countries will include a
photograph, as do German permits and visas since the beginning of this
year. Germany is pressing to shorten the transition period before the
new EU legislation takes effect.
The next step will be to construct a Europe-wide visa database, and
the European Commission has proposed to create a visa identification
system. In Germany, we will expand our existing database, used mainly
for registering aliens, into a comprehensive database on visa
decisions. This database will contain records of visa applications, including photographs and decisions made at German consulates and
In addition, we need Europe-wide forgery-proof standards for passports
and identity cards. Germany is one of the strongest supporters of the
European police agency, Europol, which helps national law enforcement
agencies and security and intelligence services by gathering and
analyzing information from all the EU member states.
anti-terrorism unit was strengthened last year to ensure that a
suspect's personal data can be exchanged with the U.S. in the most
effective manner. We should also create a Europe-wide basis for
computer aided profiling and search.
Germany has had very good experience with this method, which has
provided numerous investigative leads. It should be possible to
replicate this experience at a European level. We have made progress
toward ensuring Europe-wide international security, with standardized
instruments, but not enough and not quickly enough. The European Union
has to speed up its decision-making.
Another important element in fighting crime and terrorism will be to
increase the number of public/private partnerships. Terrorism aimed at
so-called soft targets and critical infrastructures demands vigilance
and prevention by the whole of society. Prevention is obviously the
most important goal, and the free market continues to be the best
forum for the competition of ideas.
The private sector offers enormous potential in terms of producing
innovative and creative solutions, and in most cases it works more
flexibly, at a lower cost and more efficiently than the public sector.
Both sides profit from partnerships between the public sector and
private enterprise. When tasks and risks are distributed properly, this will be a win-win situation, reducing the burden on the state and
opening new markets for businesses.
It is entirely legitimate that businesses seek profit as their top
priority. Greater security, however, will also improve profitability,
as a free market can thrive only in a secure society. Security is the
backbone of our whole society, including the economy. Without security
the economy cannot flourish.
Awareness of this truth is beginning to take hold around the world. In
February 2003, for instance, the 21 member countries of the Asia
Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) spoke out in favor of more
public/private partnerships. They said that investment in security was
expected to result in significant economic returns, not only by
reducing the economic costs of terrorism but also by facilitating the
movement of goods and people.
In Germany, we are already successfully using public/private
partnerships in the security field. German passports are today
produced by a private company at a rate of about 10 million a year.
The Federal Printing Office, a venerable state institution that was
privatized in November 2000, has become a dynamic and growing business
in the free market.
In addition to passports, the Federal Printing Office produces
identity cards, drivers' licenses, bank notes and securities, at the
same high level of security as before privatization, or perhaps even
higher. The German passport, with its holographic structure, is
already recognized worldwide as a leader in terms of security standards. The Federal Printing Office has now developed prototypes of
German passports with an integrated chip that can store biometric
features of the passport holder, such as a photograph, in digitized
Incorporating biometrics into personal documents is also a major focus
of the Munich-based company, Giesecke&Devrient, which has developed a
project on automated border inspections using biometrics. This company
produces personal identification documents to high security standards
for foreign countries, including the United States. Among its many
high-security ventures, it provides the equipment that identifies
persons authorized to enter the World Trade Center site in New York.
Two other German companies, Rohde&Schwarz of Munich and Infineon
Technologies, a Siemens subsidiary, are doing pioneering work in
high-technology security and communication systems, often in
collaboration with governments. Infineon is also developing an
advanced new chip with IBM, an example of the willingness of German
and U.S. businesses to cooperate with each other and participate in
successful public/private partnerships. We need to expand this form of
cooperation across the Atlantic. A major success in this effort was the first US-German Workshop on IT-dependent critical infrastructures,
held in Berlin at the beginning of June with top experts from the
public and private sectors.
Looking back on the developments of the past few years, I am very
confident that together we will win the fight against terrorism.
Germany and the United States have constantly strengthened their
relationship, which has long been close and positive. Germany is
playing an active role in the U.S. initiative on the issue of
container security, and the United States immediately supported
Germany's proposal that G8 countries should develop joint standards
for the deployment of air marshals.
I have high expectations of the G8 working group on biometrics, which
was also established at Germany's initiative. The introduction of new
biometrics techniques offers enormous possibilities for public/private
partnerships working in conformity with international standards. We
can only defeat terrorism by working together. And together, with our
joint efforts, we will indeed succeed.