Schröder Pledges Not To Change Iraq Stance | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 31.01.2003
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Schröder Pledges Not To Change Iraq Stance

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder defends his views on a potential military conflict with Iraq and asks the United States to recogize his previous support for it.


Happier times: U.S. President Bush and German Chancellor Schröder last May

Under increasing pressure from the United States, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder defended his opposition to a possible war on Iraq during a Wednesday night interview. Here are translated excerpts from the interview conducted by the public television station ZDF.

ZDF: A decision about Iraq is about to be made. Will you maintain your position that Germany will not vote for a war against Iraq in the U.N. Security Council?

Schröder: The German position is unchanged. By the way, I don't think that a decision will be made immediately. We are working on the issue of getting the inspectors the extra time they need. That means that (a decision) naturally is not about to be made.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a ZDF interview that he would turn over new evidence next Wednesday. Could that change your mind?

First of all, it will be a good thing if the Security Council gets new evidence. That would give the inspectors a better base for conducting their work. I would have liked for this evidence -- whatever it may be -- to have been released earlier and to have been handed over to the inspectors so that they could have studied the matter. But it is still a good idea to release the evidence, and I think that it must be examined and studied by the inspectors -- they are the experts. That means that they will need more time. That is our position -- and not only ours, by the way.

Once again, Mr. Chancellor. If there is evidence and this evidence can be examined, could that change the German position?

I think people are deluding themselves about the meaning of our position. It is strongly based and built on principles. I think any sort of theoretical discussion cannot shake this principle-based position. We have always clearly said that we want to do everything -- and we mean everything -- to avoid a war and to see that Resolution 1441 is enforced through peaceful means. We are in close agreement with the French on this question, and that is a good thing. I also think that we should be interested, also as part of our public debate, in seeing that war does not become a nearly normal means of conducting international affairs. That cannot be allowed to happen, and I think that we Germans in particular know why that cannot be allowed to happen and therefore understand why we are especially sensitive.

You will maintain this fundamental position, no matter what evidence is put on the table?

Our fundamental position is unchanged.

If France voted yes (in the Security Council), wouldn't Germany change its position? I don't understand that.

We are discussing questions of war and peace here. And you are discussing them in a way, if I may say, excuse me, that is not appropriate.

Our American allies likely see that differently, Mr. Chancellor.

I think that I have made the German position clear. I also know Colin Powell to be one of the most serious international discussion partners I have ever met, and I am rather certain that the Americans will understand the position I have just described. ... The Americans know in particular that on similar matters, such as our participation in Enduring Freedom or our engagement in Afghanistan, we have given no one reason to doubt our commitment to the fight against terrorism or to go so far as to question our commitment to fulfilling our obligations to the alliance (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).