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Germany's Schroeder Stays On The Fence; Does Not Explicitly Call For A Military Victory
Thu Apr 03 2003 10:19:21 ET

Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Thursday called for a rapid end to the war in Iraq while demanding a dominant United Nations role after the shooting stops.

;We all hope a swift end to the war will keep the number of victims as low as possible,'' said Schroeder in a speech to parliament.

The German leader, both in his speech and at a later briefing, underlined Berlin's long-standing call for the U.N. to play what he termed a central, ;umbrella'' role in post-war Iraq.

Germany viewed the U.N. as a prerequisite to rebuild the country, said Schroeder, adding, however, that it was too early to talk about concrete reconstruction projects while war raged.

;That this can only work with U.N. leadership must sink into the heads of all involved,'' said Schroeder in an apparent reference to some members of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration who are wary about giving the U.N. a dominant role, and want to downgrade the institution.

Schroeder listed four points as key to creating a democratic Iraq:

- Iraq must retain its territorial integrity.

- The Iraqi people must be given self-determination and minorities must be protected.

- Iraqi oil resources must remain under control of the Iraqi people and must be used to pay for rebuilding.

- There must be a broader Mideast stabilisation process aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Chancellor - who firmly opposes the Iraq war - did not explicitly call for a military victory of the U.S.-led coalition as did France which also opposes the conflict.

;After the dictatorship is overcome we want the Iraqi people to realize their hopes for peace, freedom and self-determination,'' said Schroeder, who did not go any further on this theme.

There had been speculation Schroeder would use the speech to mend relations with the United States which have been battered due to his outspoken rejection of the war.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, after last week coming under fire for initially refusing to say who he wanted to win the war, declared: ;Obviously, we are on the side of our allies, of the United States and Great Britain.''

The conservative German newspaper Die Welt called Thursday in a front page leader on Schroeder to make a similar declaration.

But Schroeder failed to do so both in the Reichstag speech and at his briefing with visiting Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

This was immediately picked up by opposition Christian Democratic (CDU) leader, Angela Merkel, who said she wanted the forces of democracy to defeat dictatorship.

;We stand at the side of those who are fighting for democracy,'' declared Merkel, a former East German, who was taken a strongly pro-U.S. position during the war.

Turning to Iraq war lessons and divisions within the European Union (E.U.) over backing Washington, Schroeder said the only answer was to build up a more unified E.U. foreign and security policy.

While admitting Europe ;would not succeed'' in catching up with the United States in terms of military power, Schroeder underlined that the E.U. was not seeking to become a ;global policeman.''

He instead called for closer cooperation of E.U. member states' armed forces, military planning and defence industries.

;Europe must so develop its military capabilities so they correspond with our responsibilities for conflict prevention and securing the peace,'' Schroeder said.

He also called for multilateral approaches to fight not just terrorism and weapons of mass destruction but also to promote free trade and protect the environment.

Schroeder said that failing to follow a multilateral route threatened to ;destroy'' the Western democracies.


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