With German troops safeguarding international security from the horn of Africa to Afghanistan, Germany thinks the time is ripe to get what it has long lobbied for: a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Looking for a permanent place at the table.
Speaking before the German Parliament during his annual policy address, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said that Germany was "ready for the responsibility" of a permanent seat on the powerful council.
So far, only Russia, China, France, the United States and Great Britain have permanent seats on the council. Germany, which contributes €340 million to the United Nations each year, has held a rotating seat since January 2003. The temporary seat allows Germany to take part in the discussions of the 15-seat council, but doesn't give it the right to veto decisions made by the U.N., a right reserved for permanent members.
The Schröder government has made noise about a permanent seat before, but aides told the Berliner Zeitung that Schröder plans to regularly address the subject in international meetings and one-on-one talks with world leaders in the coming year.
Schröder: Japan, Russia are in favor
"Our friends in France support us, and other important European partners as well," Schröder said on March 19 during a speech at the opening of the Federal College of Security Studies. "Russia and Japan are in favor and many others as well. I'm sure that in light of our contribution to the fight against international terrorism, our friends in America will also agree to support this wish."
The statements are another step in a new direction for German policy since the Schröder government took power in 1998. After voting to send troops to Kosovo in 1999, marking the first time German soldiers served in conflict since WWII, Schröder's Social Democrat-Green Party coalition government has slowly begun redefining Germany's foreign policy goals.
In 1991, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl supported the U.S. military's campaign in Iraq with more than € 8 billion in financial help, equipment and weaponry. Last year, Schröder profiled himself on the international stage by being one of the most vocal opponents to the U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq.
Germany's peacekeeping commitment
In justifying its security council lobbying, the government repeatedly points to its active involvement in peacekeeping missions. There are roughly 7,000 German soldiers serving in international peacekeeping operations. Around 1,900 alone are serving in the UN-mandated mission in Afghanistan.
A German soldier, center, is on patrol in a street in Kabul while other soldiers follow him on an open jeep, background, in this Jan 19, 2002 file photo. According to a statement of German Ministery of Defense on Monday, March 4, 2002, German soldiers carried injured soldiers of the Afghan northern alliance to a hospital in Kabul on Friday, March 1, 2002. The German troops in Kabul are part of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). (AP Photo/Wolfram Steinberg)
"We don't think it works when others pass mandates that we have to carry out," a government source told the Berliner Zeitung. "They need to give us a bigger part in the debate."
Not only Germany, but also countries that play key roles in Asia, Africa and Latin America may be considered for permanent representation on the security council. The calls come as part of a restructuring debate happening within the United Nations. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked a team of advisors to come up with recommendations for revamping the United Nations by the end of the year. If Germany had its way, the security council would be expanded from 15 to 25 members, allowing for more permanent members than the current five.