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Merkel Critical of Schröder's UN Strategy

DW staff (jdk)
July 15, 2005

Angela Merkel, Germany's conservative leader, took a swipe at Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for his position on UN Security Council reform. Merkel is in favor of changes but thinks Schröder is acting wrongly.

Will the G-4 be shut out of the Security Council?Image: AP

As the debate over potential reforms at the United Nations heats up this summer, just how they should come about is still a hot-button issue.

Angela Merkel, leader of Germany's conservatives and potential successor to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder this autumn, lashed out at the embattled leader. Speaking to foreign reporters on Thursday, she said that "reform of the (Security) Council can only be part of a comprehensive reform of the United Nations."

Bush in Deutschland bei Angela Merkel
Merkel (r.) would like to mend strained relations with US President George W. BushImage: dpa - Bildfunk

Albeit in favor of the current drive by the center-left government to seek a permanent spot on the Security Council, Merkel remarked that the effort could come at a "high price."

"There is a danger that the overall reform that must take place is hurt because the discussion is narrowly focused on the makeup of the council," she said. "It could leave us short of the goal."

Washington opposes calls for reforms

The political wrangling in Germany, coming before probable elections in September, will probably be welcomed by the United States which opposes the plan of the so-called G-4 countries -- Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. The G-4 draft resolution proposes enlarging the Council to 25 members from its current 15. Six of those new seats would be permanent and four non-permanent.

Abstimmung im UN Sicherheitsrat
Security Council session: How much room is there at the table?Image: UN Photos

Yet, the US and China have made clear that they would reject the G-4 proposal. Washington has stated that Germany's calls for reform does not enjoy broad-based support, pointing to two other reform plans -- one by African countries and the other by a group calling itself "United for Consensus" and comprising Pakistan, Argentina, Canada, Italy and Mexico.

Delay is not the answer

The reform effort in the UN is of utmost importance to the current German government. In Israel on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Joscka Fischer made this clear and hit back at the US opposition.

Frische Ideen, Parteitag der Grünen
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has "fresh ideas" for the UN but some are opposedImage: AP

"I am very familiar with their arguments but ultimately it is a question of whether you want reform or not," he told reporters. "And delaying things will only lead to there being no reform."

He added that only the G-4 proposal takes into account regional balance, "which is an essential point," he said.

Any expansion of the Security Council would need two-thirds approval from the 191-member General Assembly. Eventually, it would be necessary to change the UN Charter and here, the five permanent members -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France -- can use their veto power.