Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Policy Statement to the German Bundestag
September 19, 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my Policy Statement of 12 September I said that this is not just a war against
the United States, but a war against the civilized world. I stand by those words.
Is this the "clash of civilizations" that has so often been spoken
My answer is clear. It is "no".
What we have here is not a "clash of civilizations" but a struggle
to protect civilization in this one world. We are aware of the diversity of
the world's civilizations, and we respect them all. But we must insist that
the principles of the American Declaration of Independence apply universally.
There it is written:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
These principles, even if they are the legacy of the Christian West and did
not develop without a number of disastrous aberrations, do not conflict with
an interpretation of Islam free of fundamentalist frenzy. Such faceless, barbaric
terrorism is directed against the very fabric that binds our world together:
respect for human life and human dignity, the values of liberty, tolerance,
democracy and the peaceful balancing of interests.
In the face of this unprecedented attack Germany will give its unreserved support
to the United States of America. Our statements of political and moral solidarity
with the US are at the present time more than just a matter of course. Here
in Berlin, in particular, we Germans will never forget what the United States
has done for us. It was the Americans who contributed so crucially to the victory
over National Socialism. And it was our American friends who, after World War
II, enabled us to make a fresh start in freedom and democracy. They guaranteed
and protected not just the survival, but also the liberty of West Berlin. And
they helped us restore our national unity in a peaceful, democratic Europe.
But we must make it clear that while gratitude is an important and weighty factor,
it does not suffice to legitimize fundamental decisions of principle. In such
decisions we are led by one goal only, that of ensuring the future of our country
as part of a free world. And that is the heart of the matter. The world has
reacted to the barbaric attacks. In a manner unusually unanimous and unambiguous.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously stated in its seminal Resolution
1368 that the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington present a threat
to international peace and security, thus establishing the conditions under
international law for resolute action against terrorism. The NATO Council expressed
its full solidarity with the United States on the basis of Article 5 of the
NATO Treaty. The attack on the US is an attack on all NATO partners. The NATO
Council adopted this decision with our full support. It follows the letter and
spirit of the NATO Treaty. NATO has not yet decided on any concrete action.
A decision on concrete action requires a prior determination that the attacks
on New York and Washington were attacks from outside NATO. Moreover, a specific
request for support must be made by the United States. This has not yet been
What rights do these decisions create for the United States?
On the basis of the Security Council resolution the United States can take measures
against the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the attacks. And, under
the terms of the resolution, which further develops international law, they
can and may take equally resolute action against states which aid, support or
What effect does this have on the Allies' obligations?
All Allies have expressed their moral and political solidarity. This is only
natural. We still do not know if the United States expects and will request
support from the NATO partners, and if so, what kind of support. It could be
military support. This option is not, and cannot be, excluded. Whatever form
of support we are asked to provide, the Basic Law and the rulings of the Federal
Constitutional Court will of course be respected.
Naturally, every right has its corresponding duty. But the reverse is also true:
any Alliance obligation corresponds to a right. In this case a right to information
and consultation. What we as Germans and Europeans wish to achieve is unreserved
solidarity with the US with respect to all necessary measures. Germany is prepared
to take risks, even military ones, but it is not prepared to embark on any reckless
adventure. Thanks to the prudent conduct of the American Administration, we
have not been called upon to embark on any such adventure, and surely will not
be in the future. This form of solidarity is what we have learnt from our history,
a lesson which was bitter enough for the civilized world. A fixation on purely
military means would be fatal.
We Europeans must further strengthen our cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Now is the time for Europe to speak with one voice. At my suggestion Mr Verhofstadt,
the Belgian President of the EU Council, has called a special session of the
European Council for Friday at which we will discuss the further position of
the European Union on the fight against terrorism. Our goal has to be the integration
of as many countries as possible in a worldwide system of security and prosperity.
To this end we want to provide incentives within the framework of development
cooperation to states which declare their willingness to cooperate in the battle
against terrorism. We have to and we want to develop a comprehensive concept
for crisis prevention and management. This concept must be based on political,
economic, cultural and security cooperation.
We must create the basis for political and economic stabilization and stability
for the crisis regions in the Middle East and Central Asia with such a concept.
Above all, we must now join forces to do all we can to achieve a breakthrough
for peace in the Middle East. The Federal Foreign Minister has already taken
the initiative on several occasions to persuade the parties to the conflict
to end the violence and resume their talks. His spirited engagement in this
conflict is the best proof of our willingness to stand by the parties on their
way to peace. Yesterday the international mediation efforts led to a first success.
President Arafat ordered his troops to obey a strict cease-fire. In return,
Prime Minister Sharon of Israel ordered Israeli troops to withdraw from the
This development is an encouraging step in a difficult situation. It will facilitate
international efforts to forge an alliance against terrorism. We have to continue
dialogue with the moderate leaders of the Arab world to this end. Over the last
few days I thus kept in touch with King Abdullah of Jordan and the Egyptian
President Mubarak. A further round of talks with the Egyptian President in Berlin
next Tuesday will also serve this purpose. Furthermore the Federal Government
will also use its existing contacts with key regional powers such as Syria and
Iran to persuade them to cooperate on combating terrorism. It cannot be said
often enough: we are not at war with any one state. And we are not at war with
the entire Islamic world.
The terrorists declared war on us and they will be called to account for doing
so. The attacks in New York and Washington have nothing to do with religion.
They are the expression of a criminal mindset. The appalling disrespect of human
life is a declaration of war against all of civilization. Thus the Islamic states
and religious communities too face the task of outlawing and fighting terrorists
and fanatics with the utmost determination. They must leave absolutely no doubt
that there is no political or religious justification for terrorist violence.
Many people in our country are asking about the possible repercussions of the
terrorist attacks. The Federal Government is aware of these concerns. And we
are taking them very seriously. But we also say: based on current assessments
there is no reason to be afraid or to panic. The Federal Government and the
security authorities reacted resolutely and continue to be vigilant. We are
not in a national state of emergency. The immediate conclusions which we had
to draw from the tragic events were and are being drawn.
For example air traffic safety, both on the ground and in the air, is being
optimized. We have taken appropriate precautions and have received the necessary
consent from the private air traffic companies. This involves making the cockpit
more secure as well as improving baggage checks, checking the background of
employees in airports or having security staff escort German aircraft.
Our intelligence services have done a good job thus far combating international
terrorism. In close cooperation with their American and European counterparts,
they have been able to prevent attacks and disclose terrorist structures. In
the past their investigations also brought about the arrest of Osama bin Laden's
then finance chief.
We will continue to have to pay particular attention to the financial structures
of terrorist networks. It is our job to seek out and disrupt these flows of
finance. The financing of terror must not become the dark side of free world
trade and free capital flows. Similarly we will have to keep a keener eye on
the financing of terror under the guise of charity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As early as this afternoon we will adopt a package of measures in the Federal
Cabinet to optimize the fight against terrorism in the light of new findings.
This includes an amendment to criminal law which makes it possible in future
to prosecute those who support criminal organizations from abroad just like
the members and sponsors of such organizations at home. This also includes the
abolition of the privileges accorded to religious groups under the law of associations.
Because the freedom of religion and belief guaranteed in the Basic Law must
not protect those who abuse religion to scheme murder and terror.
We will improve the quality and efficiency of the fight against terrorism. But
under no circumstances will we restrict, let alone abolish the rule of law in
order to fight terror. Our battle against terrorism is a defence of our open
society, our liberties, our way of life. Terrorism will not reduce us to calling
into question the very values which we defend against terrorism. And terrorism
must not and will not stop us from passing a modern immigration law geared to
the needs of our economy. We have initiated an up-to-date immigration law with
the draft bill tabled by the German Minister of the Interior. The law is urgently
needed in Germany. Now more than ever, a meaningful policy on foreigners, immigration
and integration needs a carefully considered legal instrument. For immigration
will not steer and regulate itself. Needless to say, we are open to suggestions
of rewording here and there. Necessary additions and amendments can also still
be undertaken in the ongoing parliamentary procedure. Particularly in the current
situation, the strengths and advantages of this bill become abundantly clear.
This law brings more security, for example through German missions abroad conducting
background checks before visas are granted. The new regulation also makes it
easier to distinguish between people who can gain the right of residence and
those for whom this is not the case. All those involved will receive information
faster on their situation and the consequences. Thus far fewer people with no
definite perspective of residence will live here.
Immigration, the protection of refugees and integration is an issue not just
in Germany. Our European partners are also discussing these questions. As far
as figures are concerned, we have not been at the top of the table in Europe
for a long time. Nevertheless, as a country at the centre of Europe we have
a considerable interest in adopting viable regulations for immigration at European
level. We can contribute to this with our own debate.
Like so many other nations Germany, too, has been directly affected by the terrorist
attacks in the US. We are mourning many Germans who met a terrible death in
the hijacked aeroplanes or in the World Trade Center. We still do not know the
There can be no doubt: many of our compatriots are frightened. They are afraid
of terror. Afraid of war. This fear may be exaggerated or even unfounded. But
it is there nevertheless and affects the people in our country. The very young
and particularly those who have experienced and suffered war. I think I can
understand this fear. But we must not let it paralyze us. My task is to help
turn fear into confidence. And I am convinced that there is reason to be confident.
At the start of this new century, Germany is on the right side. On the side
of the inalienable rights of all people. These human rights are the towering
achievement and the bequest of European Enlightenment. These values - human
dignity, democracy based on freedom, and tolerance - are our great strengths
in the battle against terrorism. That is what keeps our community of peoples
and nations together - and what the terrorists wanted to destroy.
These values are our identity. We will defend them, with vigour and determination.