Introduction of German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping
Ambassador Jean de Ruyt
Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to introduce Minister Scharping, the keynote speaker for this workshop on global security and the war on terrorism. The Center for Strategic Decision Research, under the chairmanship of Roger Weissinger-Baylon, has played an important role during the last ten years in shaping the post-Cold War transatlantic agenda and in offering a forum for leaders of Central and Eastern European countries that have been candidates for NATO membership.
Now we are challenged to address the issue of security from a new perspective. Just a few blocks from where the Berlin Wall fell twelve years ago, we are here together to assess global security after September 11 and also, as Ambassador Coats just mentioned, to try to be imaginative in order to reshape the world's security. To introduce this discussion, no one could be better qualified than Rudolf Scharping, minister of defense of Germany. This is true for two reasons.
First, Germany has played an increasingly important role in shaping global security and reinforcing stability over the last few years, particularly on two occasions. The first was in 1999 during the Kosovo war. Taking advantage of its double presidency of the G8 and of the European Union, Germany was instrumental in organizing a broad consensus of the international community on the action initiated by NATO. It also reintroduced the United Nations into the crisis in the Balkans, where they had previously lost credibility.
The second occasion during which Germany played a leading role in a time of crisis was obviously last year in Afghanistan, following the defeat of the Taliban. Urgent action was needed to reconcile the various factions and to encourage the Afghans to form a provisional government. Germany again was the first to react very quickly and organize the Petersberg meeting in November 2001 without which the future Afghanistan would have been very different.
In both cases, Germany was keen to have the United Nations play a central role in the initiatives it undertook, which, from the point of view of a U.N. ambassador, is worth mentioning.
Indeed after September 11, when the United States and the rest of the world were in a state of shock and profoundly traumatized by the monstrous terrorist aggression, we in the United Nations, a few miles from the World Trade Center, were quick to react. On September 12 the Security Council agreed on a resolution and the General Assembly also agreed by consensus on the condemnation of terrorism. The agenda of the General Assembly was completely rearranged. A spontaneous debate was launched in which representatives of 160 countries took to the floor. In this atmosphere, the Security Council adopted the very important Resolution 1373 which organized world action on the financing of terrorism and the circulation of terrorists from country to country. I would like to point out the importance of taking such a resolution, which is very intrusive and forces countries to take difficult steps and delicate measures, in the accepted international framework of the United Nations. The American action in Afghanistan was also closely monitored by the United Nations-the Security Council had authorized it based on the principle of self-defense. And in order to make it possible for Afghanistan to regain stability after the , the United Nations put in place an interim government with the help of Germany, as I mentioned earlier. As the only representative from the U.N. here, I would like to emphasize that the U.N. as a world body should be involved as much as possible in the actions we are taking in reaction to these new challenges to global security.
The second reason why the defense minister of Germany is particularly qualified to address the main topic of our workshop is his own personal approach to the issue of security. In various interventions he developed a very interesting concept of security deeply rooted in Germany's approach to world affairs over the last few years: a mixture of strong commitment and caution, of national involvement with respect for multinationalism.
Minister Scharping has had the very difficult task of reorganizing the German military and adapting its military capabilities to the new requirements of defense and crisis management. He has played a very important role in the German political scene since the seventies, when he was chairman of the Young Socialists and a rising star of the SPD. He became Minister President of Rhineland Palatinate in 1991 and was Chairman of the SPD from 1993 to 1995. Since October 1999, he has been the Minister of Defense of Germany with Chancellor Schröder's government.