Joschka Fischer spreekt met Europese Groenen over Irak

(19/02/03) Gisteren ontmoette een delegatie Europese Groenen de Duitse (Groene) minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Joschka Fischer. Ze bespraken de situatie in Irak. Dit is het verslag van dat bezoek.

Maakten deel uit van de delegatie: de EP-leden Dani Cohn-Bendit, Pierre Jonckheer, Heide Rühle, Johannes Voggenhuber en de stafleden Juan Behrend, Petra Prossliner, Helmut Weixler

Joschka Fischer in his opening speech advised the participants not to give way to too much optimism. The situation continues to be extremely serious. The next two weeks will be decisive. The huge worldwide anti-war demonstrations at the weekend are very significant. Our participation in this demonstration was a good thing. Nevertheless the evolution of the forthcoming weeks is unpredictable, that is why a clever handling and a light touch will be of extreme importance.

The report by the UN-Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Friday, February 14th helped to strengthen the existing Resolution. Nevertheless the current Iraqi co-operation is not sufficient. Even if the conditions under which the inspectors are allowed to work have improved.

We are going in the direction of getting full air control: German spy planes (DROHNEN) have been set into motion, the French have offered their MIRAGE F 4, the Russians the ANTONOV planes and the U2 will begin to operate. For the rest satellites are checking the whole region. A complete air monitoring will be achieved as soon as all this equipment is set into motion. Interviews with scientists are getting more accurate. Scientists can hide information only to a certain extent. During interviews UN scientists can detect false assertions. This constitutes also a good barometer to check the availability of Iraqis to co-operate.

Stressing the progresses made, it would be a tragic mistake if Iraqis got the wrong impression that the international pressure has diminished. Baghdad should not be mistaken in thinking that the anti-war demonstration has brought about a release of tensions.

In close co--operation with France, "we wish to sharpen the role of the inspectors and here it is important to take into account that between 1991 and 1998 UN-inspectors have destroyed the possibility to build nuclear weapons. Even the people who are diminishing the role of the UN, cannot deny this fact".

For us it is important to insist that when we are saying that the military intervention is a last resort, we mean exactly this.

But this obliges us to be extremely rigorous when it comes to the question of proportionality of means applied. "In the current situation there is no legitimation for a military intervention. The capability of Iraq to attack the neighbouring countries is under full control. Re-armament is excluded. The situation in the country itself is not easy to handle for the regime. How can a military intervention be justified under these conditions?

But this does not mean that Iraq should not enhance its co-operation. The role of the UN inspectors has to be reinforced. The situation is particularly problematic with regard to the bio-weapons. This kind of weapons can be easily prepared with very simple ingredients and in makeshift laboratories. Here long-term control inspections are needed.
The co-operation between France, Russia and China has to proceed. A new resolution is not needed because the current Resolution 1441 has still an important role to play. This is the orientation of our initiatives knowing that Germany has ruled out participation in any military intervention.

Concerning the fresh decision taken by NATO it cannot be said that Germany has given in. The co-operation with France and Belgium has functioned well and the compromise is acceptable. Fischer mentions
the Conclusions of the European Council on Monday February 17th in a positive way . But his repeated conclusion is that excessive optimism is inappropriate .

OTHER INTERVENTIONS

CLAUDIA ROTH intervened as member of the Working Group on Foreign affairs, stressing some specific points:
The scale of the worldwide anti-war demonstrations shows that Germany is not isolated;
The huge demonstrations were not anti-America, but anti-Bush administration;
Numerous US citizens have participated in the huge demonstrations;
The work of the UN inspectors have shown that war can be avoided;
War would have enormous consequences in the Near East, Turkey;
The consequences for minorities and for the Iraqi population would be dramatic.

DANI COHN-BENDIT stressed the fact that:
- the European Parliament and the European Institutions' position in general in the Iraqi crisis is more in line with the European public's than the national governments';
- the majority of the population of the accession countries, whose heads of governments have signed the famous letter of the 8, including Poland, is against the war;

OTHERS:
- the scale of the demonstration was so huge that they have begun to condition the behaviour of the governments.
- the recent tensions in the red/green government have been overcome. This is also an important element to take into account.

CONCLUSIONS BY JOSCHKA FISCHER

- He insisted again on the importance of the difficulties that will be met in the forthcoming two weeks;
- It is important for us to understand the current US vision of things: The impression one gets watching TV in the USA is that the country is facing a military invasion. that every day Al Qaeda will hit again. Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda are seen more or less in the same manner;
- This way of thinking is even present in the closest circle of the administration including in Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's administration;
- Explanation that Saddam Hussein is an enemy of the Islamist fundamentalists is not accepted;
- Americans get angry if you show your doubts about a possible link between Baghdad and the 11th of September;
- Concerning NATO: a discussion about the future of the NATO is looming large. The discussion we were not able to launch after the 11th of September will now take place.
This will have implications for the European Union and for the German/French relationship;
- Concerning Turkey: there will be a slowing down in the reform process ore even a stop because of the Iraqi crisis;
- Concerning Israel and the link to the Jewish community : it is important that good contacts are kept;
- Last remark: Even if the remaining hopes amount to 5% I feel responsible to make all what is in my competence to make this hope become reality;
For the rest imagine what it would have meant to have had another government in our country.

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