Guttenberg refers to ′war′ in Afghanistan, breaking Berlin taboo | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 03.11.2009
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Guttenberg refers to 'war' in Afghanistan, breaking Berlin taboo

His predecessor refused to say the word, but Germany's new defense minister on Tuesday was quoted as saying Taliban forces are waging a 'war' against the international community in Afghanistan.

zu Guttenber walking next to officerg

No more mincing of words: it's war, says the defence minister

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told mass-circulation daily Bild that Germany's engagement in Afghanistan has for years been a combat operation.

"I can understand any soldier who says, 'There is a war in Afghanistan,'" said zu Guttenberg, who was sworn in last week as Germany's new defense minister.

The minister said that in parts of Afghanistan, there are, without question, war-like conditions. While international law stipulates that a war is a conflict between two nations, zu Guttenberg said, "the feeling is - and not just among our troops - that the Taliban is waging a war against the soldiers of the international community."

A break with tradition

The German defense ministry has until now refused to call the mission in Afghanistan a war, but the new defense minister has broken with his predecessor Franz-Josef Jung's reticence to use the word.

"Certain traditional choices of words do not really work concerning present-day threats," he told the paper.

Zu Guttenberg was reserved concerning a possible increase in the number of German soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. The minister pledged Germany would not shirk its responsibilities, and added that with more than 4,300 troops, Germany already was the third-largest contributor to the ISAF mission.

Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

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