Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger
Interview with Fox News
Washington, D.C.
September 18, 2001
9:45 A.M. EDT

QUESTION: We are joined by Wolfgang Ischinger, German Ambassador to the United States.

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 that’s 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 don’t know yet exactly how many Germans were lost, but it’s 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. That’s 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 don’t 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 don’t 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.