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Germany

If I Become Chancellor...

Conservative candidate for Chancellor in Germany’s September election, Edmund Stoiber in an interview with DW-TV speaks his mind on key political and foreign policy issues and where he sees Germany if he came to power.

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Go on try me!

Edmund Stoiber, currently the State Premier of the southern German state of Bavaria and leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its smaller Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) is eyeing the Chancellor’s office in Berlin.

He holds a strong lead in polls over the ruling Social Democrats and has so far consistently slammed Chancellor Schröder’s poor record on boosting employment and the economy.

Here he speaks to DW-TV about immigration, unemployment, economy, EU expansion, a war with Iraq and Germany’s overseas military engagements.

Mr. Stoiber, the election campaign in Germany has been focussing on the theme of jobs, and the voters seem to think you're capable of delivering. In all opinion polls, the conservative parties are well ahead of the SPD, Chancellor Schröder's party. Please tell us how you would reduce the high level of joblessness in Germany.

Above all, it's vital that we give small- and medium-sized businesses hope, that's to say firms employing one, two, three, four, five, a hundred, one hundred and twenty, three hundred employees. We have to give these small companies a fresh chance.

And secondly, of course, we need to do away with restrictive laws preventing people founding their own businesses - we need to promote self-employment. Moreover, we need to strongly encourage part-time work so that we can create several hundred thousand new jobs there which could be filled at any time.

Germany is a parliamentary democracy - we don't elect a Chancellor, we elect the Bundestag or lower house of parliament. Whatever happens in the vote, you'll need a coalition partner. Who would you prefer to govern with?

Well, as regards overcoming the central problem of unemployment, strengthening our economic capacity and attaining a higher level of growth, we obviously have a great deal of common ground with the FDP , that's to say the Liberals. Certainly, they have plenty of different ideas too. But regarding the basic programme we could reach agreement very quickly.

As regards taxation reform and reform of employment practices, we could very quickly agree on the basic tenets, definitely much more quickly than with any other party. And for me -- for us -- there's no question of a coalition with the Greens. Nor with the SPD because a grand coalition would be a standstill coalition.

Let's discuss basic policy. Against your decided resistance, the red-green coalition government has passed a law regulating immigration to Germany. Do you want to keep that, if you become Chancellor? What would Chancellor Stoiber mean for immigration?

First of all, I expect that the German Constitutional Court will declare this law null and void because it was not passed correctly. In my opinion, the crucial vote cast in the Bundesrat was weighted wrongly. As a result, the law did not have a majority in the Bundesrat and that's what the Constitutional Court will say too. That's my expectation.

Independent of that, we will obviously have to make considerable corrections to this law. We'll bring in amendments to it and also alter parts of its basic substance. Because we're of the opinion that, right now, the government's law doesn't regulate immigration properly. It doesn't limit immigration, it extends immigration.

My next question concerns money and foreign policy. The German Government has been called upon to take on ever more engagements abroad: in Afghanistan, around the Horn of Africa, in the Balkans.. You say the armed forces need more money for that. Where's that money to come from?

Of course, we need a Bundeswehr that’s much more efficient in terms of how it’s equipped. You just mentioned Afghanistan and it's just not acceptable that Germany doesn't have aircraft which are able to fly its soldiers to Afghanistan. Planes were rented out from Ukraine, they got snowed in Turkey and couldn't fly further.

That's unworthy of a leading nation such as Germany. That's why we need better equipment for the Bundeswehr. However, that's something we can only bring about, when we've achieved a higher rate of economic growth. We're the country with the lowest rate of growth in Europe. We're in last place and everyone knows that the last man in can't manage as much as those in the midfield or at the top.

It's my aim to quickly bring Germany back to the top economically, with greater economic growth, with more income. In the next parliamentary term, we'll certainly be able to provide the Bundeswehr with more resources than is currently the case.

Would you support a possible attack by the USA on Iraq? Politically or even militarily?

I don't believe that it makes sense to address hypothetical questions like that and risk generating fear. The discussion currently underway in America has a long while to run yet. Of course it's also been affected by the declaration of the Iraqi Foreign Minister, who's now conducting talks with the UN again about UN inspectors who may possibly be allowed into the country again. We should concentrate on that.

We have to know what the Iraqis have, what sort of criminal weapons Saddam Hussein has: bacteriological biological and nuclear weapons. Therefore we need inspectors in the country. I believe that the pressure that’s been exerted there in total, from the Americans, from the Russians, and moderately from Europe, that that pressure has led to the situation that the Iraqis are now giving ground and talking to the UN about it. That's what we need to concentrate on, not on discussions whether America is going to attack Iraq. That's secondary to the question of inspectors.

The European Union wants to expand, wants to admit new countries in eastern and central Europe. What's your position on this? Should it happen quickly or do you favour a more cautious approach?

The process is so far advanced, that we should now do everything we can. We need to complete the negotiations this year. 2003 should be the year of ratification in the fifteen European Union member states. And I assume that we'll take the first ones that fulfil the conditions on board in 2004. I don't believe we can wait much longer - the people in Poland or in Slovakia, in Hungary, in the Baltic states, are getting very restless, because they have the feeling we don't want them.

My last question: If you end up governing Germany, what will the country be like four years on? Do you want it to be marked by your basic conservative outlook? Can you sum it up in one word?

Well, I believe, you're oversimplifying a bit. The CDU/CSU is conservative as well, but it's not just a conservative party. It's also a liberal party and in particular also a social party.

We're also the party of ordinary men and women. And therefore I don't like it, when you just tag the party with one label. I won't deny that it's also one of our labels, but not the only one.

And therefore, I believe, that by the end of the legislative period, we'll be all together stronger, we'll have high growth. We'll again be in step with the best in Europe, with high-performing countries like England. We'll no longer just be in last place all the time. We'll have more small businesses, more employers and therefore more jobs.

We'll be a motor for Europe - right now we're not. And, before everything, we'll intensify Franco-German relations - and that will once again become the true nucleus of the European impetus.

  • Date 04.08.2002
  • Author The interview was conducted by Christian F. Trippe
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/2X0T
  • Date 04.08.2002
  • Author The interview was conducted by Christian F. Trippe
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/2X0T