Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has told the UN General Assembly that Germany is ready for a permanent seat on the Security Council. He also appealed for diplomatic solutions in Syria and Iran.
With Germany's position as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council set to expire at the end of the year, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle appealed to the General Assembly to consider Europe's largest economy for permanent membership of the Council.
"We are ready to take on more responsibility," Westerwelle said in New York on Friday, saying the Council should be adapted to better reflect "today's world."
The 15-member Security Council is made up of five permanent members - the US, China, Russia, France and Britain - and 10 rotating non-permanent members. It is one of the UN's principal bodies, charged with maintaining international peace and security. All five permanent members were appointed in 1946, immediately after World War II.
Germany, which is currently taking its turn as chair of the Security Council, has named permanent membership as a goal since Chancellor Helmut Kohl's tenure in the 1990s.
Appeals for diplomacy to Syria, Iran
Westerwelle also used his speech to criticize the divided Security Council for so far failing to act on the conflict in Syria. Three proposed resolutions on the conflict have been vetoed by China and Russia.
"The Security Council of the United Nations to this day has not lived up to its responsibilities to the people in Syria," Westerwelle said. He also appealed to western powers to continue seeking a "political solution," owing to the prospect of Russia and China opposing any tough measures targeting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The German foreign minister also criticized Iran in his speech, saying it still "owed [the international community] proof of the entirely peaceful intentions of its nuclear program." Israel, the US and others suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, a charge the government in Tehran contests.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his Thursday speech to the UN to appeal for a "red line" to be drawn on Iranian enrichment of uranium, a radioactive element that can be used to make nuclear weapons.
"The talks in recent months have not brought us satisfactorily closer to a solution," the German foreign minister lamented, calling on Iran "to stop playing for time."
Westerwelle also alluded to the ongoing debt difficulties in the eurozone and sought to reassure world leaders.
"Germany knows its European responsibilities," Westerwelle said, adding that the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis demanded a difficult path of fiscal discipline, solidarity and economic growth.
"But we will navigate this path. Europe is growing closer together … Europe will be stronger after this crisis than it was before," Westerwelle said.
msh/pfd (AFP, dpa, dapd)