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