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Germany

Germany United in Praise for Iraq

Germany's political parties all praised the millions of Iraqis who braved threats of violence to vote in Sunday's election. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder spoke of an encouraging sign for the country.

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German politicians agree that the elections were a victory for Iraq

Around the world, politicians heaped praise on the relatively peaceful elections in Iraq on Sunday. In Germany it was no different. In a published statement, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder praised the Iraqi people's resolve to determine their own future stressing that the election could lay the foundation for democracy in the war-torn country.

Germany would support the continuing democratization process "by word and deed." The strong voter turnout, the statement said, shows that Iraqis had not been intimidated by violent attempts to derail the election.

The German government also expressed the opinion that all of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups needed to be included in the ongoing political process. This call was echoed by the opposition conservatives.

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Iraqi women line up outside a polling station in the northern Kurdish city of Suleimaniya

"My great hope is that the result of the election is a well-balanced representation of all groups," said Elmar Brok, a senior Christian Democrat representative to the European parliament. The Strasbourg politician stressed like most people, that Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis should be participating equally in Iraq's political process.

Direct support for Iraq ?

But the common praise of the parties ends there. The center-left coalition in Berlin has fundamentally opposed the Iraq war, and in the process, has strained relations with Washington. The conservatives have long been critical of the Schröder administration's stance. The opposition is urging Berlin to do more to support the United States in their efforts to foster democracy in Iraq.

Bush beendet den Krieg mit Galeriebild

The war of US President George W. Bush is still a bone of contention in Germany

So far the German government refuses to provide assistance on the ground, but it is training Iraqi police and security personnel in neighboring countries. Gernot Erler, foreign policy expert of the ruling Social Democrats, said the German government's policy on Iraq would remain unchanged after the vote.

Despite the success of the elections, Erler believes there is no reason to change Berlin's stance and its opposition to the US-led war in Iraq. "Those who opposed the war are still convinced that Saddam Hussein could have been sidelined by the international community without resorting to military force," Erler said.

Reconstruction aid

Nonetheless, Germany is planning to pump more money into the rebuilding of Iraq. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is said to support proposals for an additional €200 million in reconstruction aid to Iraq which will be discussed at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Monday.

Despite deep divisions in the 25-nation bloc over the Iraq war, there is strong agreement to support Iraqi reconstruction. The EU has already spent more than €300 million mainly on improving Iraqi security in the run up to Sunday’s election.

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