Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger
Interview with Fox News
September 18, 2001
9:45 A.M. EDT
QUESTION: We are joined by Wolfgang Ischinger, German Ambassador to the United
Mr. Ambassador, welcome, thanks for being with us. Good morning. Germany has
said it is willing to help out in this war on terrorism, but how far does that
extent go? Would Germany be willing to commit troops, for example?
ANSWER: Let me begin by saying that when the terrorists hit America a week ago
we were hit also. This was an attack not only on the United States but on all
of us together. Chancellor Schröder has expressed that on numerous occasions
during the last several days and he has, in fact, used the words of unlimited
solidarity, and thats what we mean. I want your viewers to understand
that, while Americans have experienced terrible losses, this attack in America
has caused the single greatest loss from a terrorist attack on German lives.
We dont know yet exactly how many Germans were lost, but its probably
in the three digits, somewhere between a hundred and two hundred people. We
have never had that kind of a tragedy; so in a very direct not only in a political
sense, we consider that an attack on ourselves. Thats why we want to work
with the United States in responding to this new threat in a completely new
era. We know the world has changed. Foreign Minister Fischer, Vice Chancellor
of Germany, is arriving late tonight for urgent consultations with the U.S.
Administration. We are going to talk about all of the options political,
economic, financial, cultural. We dont want a war between civilizations,
between the Christian and Jewish world on one side and the Muslim world on the
other. We have to make sure that the many hundreds of millions of Muslims who
do not share the goals of these fundamentalist fanatics are not being painted
in a corner where they dont belong.
QUESTION: Nobody wants to go after the innocent, but at the same time the feeling sometimes
in America is that we have to take the lead on issues like this and have to
sometimes drag the Europeans kicking and screaming to our aid. Is there going
to be any reluctance at all if the United States decides to attack some military
targets. Is there going to be reluctance on the part of Germany?
ANSWER: You know that last week all NATO members agreed with the United States that
this attack was to be considered an attack on all of us. We are speaking here
about Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. That was an unprecedented gesture of solidarity.
With regard to military options, we have not yet been presented with concrete
options by the United States. That discussion is beginning. But I can tell you
one thing: We know that this is serious, and we agree with the United States
that we must develop a comprehensive strategy and that that strategy may need
to include military elements. That is what we mean by unlimited solidarity.
QUESTION: What about domestically at home? We are reading that an awful lot of these
hijackers apparently studied at universities in Hamburg and that there is a
significant cell of Osama bin Laden operatives right now in Hamburg. Domestically,
are German authorities taking steps to eradicate and arrest those people?
ANSWER: Well, John, I can only tell you that most Germans are as terrified by what
is emerging as most Americans are about the fact that some of these people have
been taking flying lessons in Florida. We are putting together in Berlin a package
of new security measures. We are looking at the question of how to stop these
people from getting their activities financed. How can we make sure that we
know if groups that act as if they were just religious groups really pursue
fanatical extremist goals? We deal with exactly the same questions that the
Attorney General and others need to deal with in this country. Our borders are
open. We can cope with this situation only if we do it on a joint and an integrated
basis in the European Union and across the Atlantic. So, yes, we are cracking
down on it. We need to go to our Parliament, new laws need to be adopted, and
the debate has begun.
ANCHOR: Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger of Germany. I know I speak for all Americans
in thanking you for the support, and we look forward to working with your country
in wiping out these terrorists. Thanks very much, sir, for being with us.