Dr. Ludger Volmer, Minister of State
Speech in the German Bundestag
Berlin, Germany
September 19, 2001

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The terrorist attacks on the United States have caused immense human suffering. They have destroyed one of the nerve centres of the Western world. They have devastated a vibrant multicultural city. And they have done yet more: they have called into question many people's perceptions of a world seemingly dominated by the United States.

Discovering their assumed invulnerability has vanished has left Americans shocked. Realizing the power that guaranteed our security has itself become a victim, has left us with a feeling of deep disquiet. For 50 years the United States has helped safeguard Europe\'s security, freedom and democracy. That is why at this difficult and critical hour we Europeans are called on to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States.

This we shall do, as Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has once again stressed, with firm resolve yet with the cool judgement and sense of proportion required to assess also the consequences of our actions. We admire the United States for powerfully expressing its grief and anger while forgoing precipitate action and seeking together with its partners to devise a rational strategy for combating this new and horrific brand of terrorism without harming those who are innocent, without making enemies of potential friends, without allowing a well-focused campaign against criminal organizations to turn into a wholesale clash of civilizations.

Foreign Minister Fischer is today in Washington to assure our American friends once again of our solidarity and consult with them on the next steps to be taken.

NATO's decision of 12 September was an important token of solidarity with the United States. The Atlantic Alliance is no fair-weather partnership. Against murderers so contemptuous of human life, so ruthlessly bent on destroying what holds all our societies together the Alliance must stand united. We as allies of the member under attack have not only a moral right but also a moral and political obligation to come to its defence and bring the perpetrators, masterminds and sponsors of terrorism to justice. This obligation is explicitly spelled out in the UN Security Council's resolution of 12 September, which states that the attack on the United States is a threat to international peace and security.

Fighting terrorism is going to be a long and arduous task. Those guilty of perpetrating, supporting and instigating terrorism must be punished. Failure to do so will merely lead to further escalation. If the threat is not to arise again soon in a different form, however, the whole international community needs to work with a common purpose, needs to build a worldwide coalition. This is not a matter of one civilization against another but of civilization against barbarism.

Encouraging signals are coming from a host of countries: from Russia, from China, from Pakistan and from India. The Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have given an assurance of their unconditional support. A regional coalition is emerging, a coalition determined to combat terror on the one hand and on the other to prevent the Afghan Taliban regime from destablizing the whole region. Egypt has proposed an international conference on terrorism; on Friday a special EU summit is to be held on the fight against terrorism.

Almost the whole Arab and Islamic world - and that is crucial, I believe - has categorically condemned the terrorist attacks. It, too, like we ourselves, has lost loved ones in the rubble that was once the World Trade Center. Not a few Arab countries have themselves had extremely painful experiences of terrorism. If the terrorists' tracks are found to lead to the Arab and Islamic world, that is all the more reason for us to welcome the Arab countries as members of the international alliance to combat this scourge of humanity.

The more intensive the dialogue between civilizations and cultures, the more effective this struggle will be. But if intercultural dialogue is indispensable in the international arena, it is also indispensable here at home both now and in the future. President Bush's appeal in a Washington mosque for tolerance towards Muslims was a gesture commanding admiration and respect. Here in Germany as well we should reach out to our Muslim community and show them that we clearly understand the difference between Islam and Islamism.

Another helpful factor in combating islamist terrorism would be tangible headway in the near future in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Any further escalation in the Middle East would be a boost to extremists everywhere in the Islamic world.

The Federal Government therefore welcomes yesterday's statement by President Arafat as an important step on the path towards peace in the Middle East.

It signifies a strategic decision by the Palestinians to align themselves unequivocally with the anti-terror coalition and join in destroying the international networks of violence and death. In this hour zero for the international community we hope President Arafat will have the strength to honour his ceasefire pledge, to overcome those internal opponents set on fomenting trouble as we saw once again last night, and to make a new start, and that such efforts will be honoured in turn by the Israeli side.

Over the past months the Federal Government and Foreign Minister Fischer especially have consistently and energetically sought to revive the peace process. Minister Fischer has also several times been in touch with President Arafat and yesterday's statement was closely coordinated with him. We will keep up these efforts. We will continue working for the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume talks on the basis envisaged in the Mitchell Plan: without preconditions.

Pakistan, too, was quick to make clear its total condemnation of the terrorist attacks. In the current difficult and emotional climate that was by no means an easy step to take. President Musharraf has indicated he will take a favourable view of US requests for assistance. His Government is currently seeking to build a broad national consensus in support of such a constructive position. Clearly we must endorse such efforts, lest the country be destabilized and its nuclear weapons potential fall into the hands of islamist-fundamentalist groups.

If it emerges that military operations against the rulers of Afghanistan are both justified and unavoidable, it must then be asked what purpose they should serve. If they are indeed unavoidable, they must not be allowed to destroy any chance Afghanistan may have to build its own future, any prospect of enlightened government, an end to poverty and the refugee problem, any hope for modernization and democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen, many people at this time feel a sense of unease, particularly members and supporters of my own party, but of other parties as well. They see a danger we could end up sliding into some kind of military escalation we have no power to stop. Many fear they might find themselves in an ethical dilemma as to whether they should approve the use of military force, the very situation they hoped preventive security policy would be able to avert. These scruples must be taken seriously. To persuade people to go along, albeit with grave misgivings, with military operations, the dimensions of such operations must be clear and the end foreseeable. It must be plain beyond all doubt that political measures have absolute priority.

That is another reason I am convinced 11 September was a day that changed the world. Looking ahead, there is much we will now have to rethink. We will have to formulate a new security policy that views terrorism as the number one threat, a policy that cannot be geared first and foremost to the use of military force. A broad-based approach to crisis prevention must employ the instruments of international structural policy to tackle the kind of grim social and economic conditions that may generate support for terrorism. We should also reflect seriously on many of the issues raised in recent months by the critics of globalization. While clearly no structural injustice, however gross, can ever vindicate the use of terror, we must be realistic enough to recognize that greater justice in the world, more evenhanded efforts to resolve regional conflicts, more dialogue on an equal footing also with smaller and poorer countries will likewise mean more security for ourselves.

Let me conclude with one last point: Standing united with our transatlantic partners in this critical hour has brought home to us that what we have in common is what really counts; the differences on individual issues that have occupied us of late are but of secondary importance. Despite all the tragedy, the horror of recent events, we now have a chance to renew the transatlantic partnership, to intensify the dialogue particularly also as concerns the younger generation on both sides of the Atlantic who have no conscious knowledge of the World War, the post-war years or the Cold War. From now on battling barbarism is part of the common agenda of both Americans and Europeans, it is an invitation addressed to everyone who seeks to make this world of ours a more civilized place.

Thank you.