Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 2 February 1993

Mr President, Madam Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, may I first of all thank you, Mr President, for your friendly words of welcome. Permit me at the same time to say “thank you” to you as a Spanish friend for the welcome you have extended.

It is a great honour for me to address you here today. I am especially looking forward to the debate, and I hope we shall have an intensive debate with one another, as debates should be. Let us have a debate with questions and answers which have not been prepared, and let there be a lively exchange of views.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Council of Europe here in Strasbourg is the oldest organisation of free states in Europe, and at the same time the only forum which brings together parliamentarians from almost the whole of Europe.

Many people in Europe, including Germany, are – fortunately, and I would stress this word – still not aware what a tremendously important role the Council of Europe has played in the integration of our continent over the last four decades.

The Council of Europe was established in 1949 as the first European political organisation after the war with the aim of achieving, as the Statute says, “a greater unity between the members for the purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress”.

This could not be phrased more briefly, more succinctly or, I believe, more wisely.

The founders who left their mark on the work accomplished here – you were kind enough, Mr President, to mention my friend the late Kurt Georg Kiesinger – attempted to draw conclusions from their own painful experience of this century’s history. They clearly saw that peace and reconciliation among the peoples of Europe could only be lastingly safeguarded on the basis of democracy and respect for human rights.

This crucially important basis of the Council of Europe’s work has remained unchanged. I venture to state here that in the distant future the work of the Council of Europe in establishing standards of human rights, civil rights and the rights of minorities will be counted among the crucial contributions of modem history.

In view of the dangerous developments in some parts of Europe, we need the Council of Europe both today and tomorrow – just as we did forty years ago – as the custodian of our cultural heritage and the fundamental values which unite us.

For the Germans of the then very young Federal Republic of Germany, the admission of their country as a full member of the Council in 1951 was of great significance, which it is difficult to describe today. With our admission to the family of democratic peoples of Europe, we Germans embarked on the course charted for us by the Basic Law of 1949, namely to serve world peace as an equal member of a united Europe.

For us in the Federal Republic our membership of the Council of Europe and the almost simultaneous establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community marked the beginning of a policy which had the clear aim of bringing about a united Europe. This policy has paid off for all of us in Europe, and particularly for us Germans.

The fact that after more than forty years we in Germany – like all of us in Europe – have been able to overcome the confrontation between east and west in peace and freedom is due – and this is my firm conviction – not least to the process of European unification. Our firm involvement in future European integration formed, after all, a basis of trust for the restoration of German unity in peace and freedom, with the approval of all our neighbours and partners.

For us Germans this is, if you like, the decisive prerequisite for the future. We shall only be able to preserve peace and freedom if we Germans are fully involved in the process of European unification. The European Community has a decisive role to play, but this does not detract from the importance we attach to the Council of Europe and the CSCE as mainstays of pan-European development.

I should like to make a very personal statement here because very many things have been, and perhaps continue to be, misunderstood in Europe: what will our position, the German position, be on the question of European unification? I shall put the answer very simply: for Germany the political unification of Europe is of vital importance, an existential issue pure and simple. In April 1990, together with François Mitterand and others – I see Guilio Andreotti is here, so I can address him directly – I initiated the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Maastricht on political and economic and monetary union.

At that time – it was, after all, not long ago, ladies and gentlemen – many, many questions were put to the Germans. There were a number of people – and perhaps some of those present here in this Chamber today were among them – who asked themselves the question: Has the time now come when the Germans will reveal their true face, leave the process of European unification and turn their attention eastwards again? This is what people were saying and writing at the time.

I very much understand these concerns, I have to admit, because the history of this century has, after all, been characterised by terrible deeds perpetrated in the name of the Germans. Many of those who saw the pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall were pleased, but they have not forgotten their own experience of life in the years preceeding it.

Other have considered the geographical and geopolitical position, the fact that this Germany with almost 80 million inhabitants and its considerable economic strength and organisational ability is both geographically and politically in the centre of Europe and that it might go it alone again.

Ladies and gentlemen, I shall say it again, and I wish to make this quite clear: we believe in Konrad Adenauer’s dictum that German unity and European unification are two sides of one and the same coin. As Germans we should fail the test of history if we were to be satisfied with German unification. Our future cannot be in a narrow interpretation of the nineteenth century philosophy of the nation-state. The future lies in our being able to unite the countries of Europe, but not by losing our identity. We shall remain British, German, Italian or French. All that matters is that we should walk the road to Europe together.

For this reason I have been and remain a passionate champion of European unification. To us, therefore, the contents of the Treaty of Maastricht are of the utmost importance.

Ladies and gentlemen, the year of radical change – 1989 – has shown that 200 years after the French Revolution human and civil rights, the ideals of freedom and democracy, have lost none of their tremendous historical force and dynamism.

The fact that in setting out along the path of democracy the peoples of central, eastern and southeastern Europe have invoked human and civil rights again and again is not least thanks to the Council of Europe.

It was the Council of Europe which in 1989 was the first European institution to open its doors to the states of central, eastern and south-eastern Europe and invite them to work with it. By introducing special guest status, the Parliamentary Assembly paved the way for the countries undergoing reform to join the Council of Europe later on, something which we believe to be an urgent necessity.

Hungary, former Czechoslovakia, Poland and Bulgaria have now been admitted to the Council of Europe. Other countries have applied to join. For me, this general trend underscores in an impressive way the attraction exerted by the Council of Europe and its reputation as a pan-European forum.

The countries of central, eastern and south-eastern Europe not only expect effective help from the European Community but also from the Council of Europe in continuing to pursue their political and economic reforms; and the Council of Europe is particularly well placed to help establish the legal foundations for this process of reorganisation, and especially to promote co-operation in the cultural and social spheres. In doing so it will make an important contribution to the stability of these countries and of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen, it must be our objective to forge an indissoluble link between the national awakening in these countries and the idea of freedom, democracy and human and minority rights. Only when we succeed in this together – and it is worth making great efforts to do so – can we eliminate for good the causes of those nationalistic excesses which we observe here and there.

With the European Convention on Human Rights over forty years ago, the Council of Europe produced the first international treaty containing a catalogue of human rights binding on all parties. Moreover, when they set up the European Commission and Court, countries decided for the first time, on the basis of voluntary agreements, to implement, and subject themselves to, an effective control mechanism.

The right of the individual citizen to appeal to these international bodies when he feels that measures taken by his country impinge upon his fundamental rights is more than exemplary.

In addition to the protection of individual human rights, the establishment and assertion of effective rights for minorities is gaining increasing importance. This stems from the experience of history that it is only possible for different nationalities and ethnic groups to live and flourish in the same country when the rights and the protection of minorities are safeguarded.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say this with a sense of gratitude and respect for your work. Pause for a moment and think about the subject you discussed yesterday, minority rights. If that declaration – as I wish to call it – had been in force at the beginning of the century which is now coming to an end, then just imagine how much suffering, how much bloodshed and how many tears could have been avoided during this century.

No one should believe that the century which begins in seven years will automatically be a peaceful one if the necessary conditions are not created. For this reason the effective protection of minority rights, civil rights and the right to freedom are crucial prerequisites for a peaceful future.

For understandable reasons, in international politics we are at the moment getting more and more used to speaking only about economic issues, important though they are, but basic rights, the right to freedom and minority rights are the real prerequisites for peace and freedom in our continent in the next century.

Ladies and gentlemen, only in this way can we ensure that ethnic problems, and the territorial problems often linked to them, are not resolved in the way in which they often used to be resolved, with disastrous consequences, and which we see almost daily in the pictures of intolerable suffering from the former Yugoslavia.

In its recommendation passed in 1990, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe made important proposals. I should very much welcome it if a convention for the protection of minorities were to be adopted on this basis as rapidly as possible. The Council of Europe would thus underscore its role as a champion of human and minority rights throughout Europe – just as it did with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is also necessary to state here that western Europe has been freed once and for all from the evil spirits of the past: it is not immune to a reversion to chauvinistic thinking, to intolerance. We Germans – you will allow me to say this – have in the last few weeks and months witnessed a horrifying increase in violence by extremist groups. Everyone who feels committed to his fellow human beings and to respect for the heritage of our western civilisation as the moral basis of their thinking and action will be filled with abhorrence at these crimes. There cannot, and must not, be any leniency towards violence that is contemptuous of human life, whichever extreme of the political spectrum it may come from.

We in Germany know that on no account may a constitutional democracy be allowed to tolerate a situation in which foreign residents become the victims of blind aggression – people who have made, and continue to make – we have not forgotten this – a decisive contribution to Germany’s economic progress in the last forty years.

The Federal Government and the Lander, which have primary responsibility here, are combatting this violence with every means at their disposal. You will all remember the pictures in the last few days and weeks of many millions of my compatriots demonstrating against xenophobia and racism. In doing so they wanted to show that the overwhelming majority of our people condemn in the strongest possible terms every excess committed against foreigners.

Ladies and gentlemen, you all also know that xenophobia, hostility to foreigners and anti-semitism are visible everywhere in Europe. I therefore find it important that we stand together in Europe to combat this evil which has brought so much suffering upon our continent. We must step up our joint efforts at the European level and take responsibility for dealing with the consequences of world-wide migratory movements and flows of refugees which are causing increasing problems in individual countries. This concerns us all, and no one should believe that, because the Germans must now bear the main burden, it is not to some degree also the business of other countries.

For this reason I would ask you to help wherever you can so that we can also reach a common European solution on the law of asylum, an important human issue which involves considerable humanitarian problems.

Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to make a brief comment on a subject which is close to my heart. Europe’s independent cultural identity, which has rightly always been a major aspect of your work, is reflected not least in its linguistic diversity. To preserve this diversity will remain one of the great tasks for the Council of Europe in the future. At least those languages which are most widespread in Europe – and German just happens to be one of them – should all have equal weight. It is precisely the political debate on Europe at home in Germany, as well as in the countries of our partners, which has shown how important it is for many citizens to rediscover their own language. Therefore, both the Bundestag and the Federal Government are very much concerned that German should also have equal status in the Council of Europe.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Council of Europe has sought from the outset to co-operate with other European institutions, be it OECD, the CSCE or, above all, the European Community. This approach must be consistently pursued, and I believe each European institution should make the best contribution it can. I think it is high time we considered and discussed how the work of the individual organisations in Europe – the European Community, the Council of Europe and the CSCE – can be better defined and better co-ordinated. For the Council of Europe this may mean that it must above all prove the strengths it has demonstrated again and again in the past.

The Austrian Federal Government has proposed that a summit of the heads of state and government of the member states of the Council of Europe be held this autumn to discuss the focal points of its future work. I am fully in agreement with this, on condition that it is not just one of many summit conferences – which are being increasingly criticised by our fellow citizens in Europe – and that we meet there to achieve results which are tangible and easy for our citizens to comprehend. If careful preparations are made, this should easily be possible. Both the Federal Government and I are prepared to fully co-operate on this. We hope that substantive results can be achieved and that, in particular, individual subjects can be dealt with to a limited extent. A message needs to be sent out, for if not the whole thing will be pointless.

We are all aware of increasing criticism, levelled at us at home, along the lines of “You’re together all the time but what results do you actually achieve?”. We should take this question very seriously.

We all know that Europe as a whole needs an anchor of stability today more than ever before. This role can only be taken by a strong European Community capable of acting both internally and externally. For this reason, it is very important for us Germans – I repeat – that the Treaty of Maastricht is actually implemented and that we now take the historical opportunity offered to us to create a European Union. Let me put it in simple terms: for me personally, for the government I lead, for the vast majority of Germans and certainly for the German Parliament – we all agree on this point – there is no other way. As Germans we want to take the path to European integration – with no turning back.

I said in Edinburgh that the European train cannot be stopped. This is our policy, and we shall stick to it.

Please do not misunderstand me when I say at the same time that we are not rejecting a larger Europe when we promote political union within the context of the Treaty of Maastricht. Both the European union and the enlarged European “home” must remain right at the top of our agenda. For me there is no “either/or” on this question, only a “both/and”. That is why we have shaped our policies accordingly, and that is why it is now so important for us to complete individual items on the agenda quickly: a common foreign and security policy really worthy of the name, economic and monetary stability, a Europe which is in touch with citizens’ aspirations and respects the identity of individual countries so that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, decisions are taken where they can best be taken; and the deepening of our democratic identity.

I assume that we shall be able in a few years – and Germany will make its contribution with the policies it pursues – to push rapidly ahead with, and bring to an early conclusion, the negotiations on membership with Austria, Sweden and Finland (and Norway, I hope). I also hope that it will be possible – and this is a view we have always held – to safeguard the future prospects of Europe by means of a network of association agreements, especially with the countries of central and south-eastern Europe which are currently undergoing reform.

Ladies and gentlemen, the co-operation of the Council of Europe with the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, CSCE, is very important. The Paris Charter has created an important basis for this. The first concrete steps towards closer co-operation were developed a long time ago. The Council of Europe and the CSCE should complement one another and co-ordinate their work, especially with respect to the human dimension when it comes to building up democratic institutions, in the new CSCE member countries in particular.

Mr President, Madam Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, the fundamental changes that have taken place in the period since 1989 – that is to say scarcely three years – require new thinking in Europe, not least in Germany; new thinking in the best sense of the word, namely that we rethink our policies, and this requires courage, decisiveness, energy and creative ideas. I believe we who are alive today – the older ones among us who lived through the war, the middle generation which grew up after the war and the very young – now, in the last seven years of this century, have a unique chance which a generation has seldom had in the history of modem times: if only we have the will we can build a durable peace in Europe, a peace which will at the same time be always based on freedom. For this reason we must take steps together in good time to counteract anything that may endanger the stability and the peace of our continent. We must assert the principles which the Council of Europe stands for: pluralism and democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I often ask myself, especially in discussions with young people, pupils, apprentices or students – discussions I have again and again in many European countries – whether those of us whose task it is to take political action are not running the risk at the moment of dealing with particular issues when young people have long had different aspirations.

This was my feeling – and I kept telling people this – last summer when I spent a long afternoon on Charles Bridge in Prague and met young Russians, Ukrainians, Italians, Dutchmen and women, people from Britain, Germans, in fact young people from all the countries of Europe. They were sitting there dressed in the clothes of the younger generation, with a great variety of styles and colours. They spoke many different languages and nevertheless understood one another. They made music and felt completely at home in Europe.

That memory I have of Charles Bridge is a picture you can see on the Spanish Steps in Rome, you will see it somewhere in Madrid, it was possible to see it during the Olympics, and you will see it on the Champs-Elysées. You will see it again in the summer when young people hike along the Rhine valley in the middle of Germany. The question is whether we have noticed and appreciated this, to me, tremendously encouraging sign of our times. It is therefore so important that politicians shape events and do not chase a development in which the clichés of the nation-state of yesterday and the day before yesterday are brought out once again.

The finest people in Europe had this vision. If you look at the conferences of the Socialist International before the first world war you will find many statements of this kind. I should like to mention a moving German testimony: if you read the letters left to posterity by German soldiers who fell in the first world war you will find many examples of this. You can read this in the work of Romain Rolland in the interwar years, and you will find it in the testimonies of people who were in concentration camps and prisons during the second world war, the period of nazism and fascism. Some of the best people in Europe realised this. As a result of it we – and I say this with reference to the Germans – in the free part of our fatherland enjoyed the gift of forty years’ peace and freedom in the old Federal Republic. In 1990, not least because of this historical development, we were presented with the unification of our country in peace and freedom. We know what our task is and what challenge history has thrown down to us. I would beg all of us not to throw away the chance offered by history. Rather, let us commit ourselves to that future in a united Europe. It is worth working for and – I say this in spite of all the tribulations of our daily lives – it is something we can enjoy doing.


Thank you, Mr Kohl, for your inspiring contribution.

No fewer than forty members of the Assembly have asked to be called to put a question to Mr Kohl. This means that each member may ask only one question. No extra questions can be allowed. First, it is a priority that everyone has the chance of putting his or her question. Secondly, I shall allow no more than 30 seconds for a question. I ask that this limitation be observed. Thirdly, I ask you, colleagues, not to repeat questions.

I shall give the floor to three or four questioners and then call Mr Kohl to respond to them. The questioning of Mr Kohl will take longer than foreseen but I hope that he will understand how important this meeting is for us all and for the Council of Europe as an entity. I call Mr Schiesser.

Mr SCHIESSER (Switzerland) (translation)

Chancellor, we are all acquainted with the concept of a “two-speed Europe”. It has been shown that various countries in Europe, both within and outside the European Community, will take different periods of time to achieve economic and political integration.

In connection with the Treaty of Maastricht another fact has come to light which can also be described in this way. Referanda have indicated that the peoples of Europe do not necessarily wish, or are unable, to keep to the speed of integration at which the governments are moving.

My question is: What precautionary measures, in your view, can be taken in order to ensure that the Europe under construction is a Europe of peoples and not simply a Europe of governments and parliaments?

Mr GÜNER (Turkey)

Following the collapse of the communist system and the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the United States of America has become a unique superpower. We are on the eve of the twenty-first century, and let us assume that the Pacific region will emerge as an important pole of economic power. Do you believe, Mr Kohl, that Europe can establish and confirm itself as a serious economic and political entity and play a leading part in the world affairs?

What might be the contribution of your country?

Mr COLOMBO (Italy) (translation)

Mr Kohl, you have confirmed the value of European unity and we are grateful to you for this. But today Europe is experiencing a full-scale political, economic and institutional crisis, to which the Vienna Summit is a reply.

What are the priority issues on the agenda for Vienna, economic reconstruction or shoring up or redesigning the “architecture” of Europe?

Mr LÓPEZ HENARES (Spain) (interpretation)

recalling that Mr Kohl favoured a strong and united Community, said there were difficulties in reconstruction. He asked whether in going for flexibility and extension of the Community, it was important to extend discussion to defence and economic issues.

Mr Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (translation)

First of all, I have again heard the word “crisis”. Actually, I do not hear about anything else but crises. I cannot understand this word. I do not believe that Europe is in crisis. I contest this view. If I really consider the historical dimension of what has happened in the past forty years, I cannot see that we are in crisis. What we need in Europe is patience. That is something completely different, it is not a crisis.

However, with the best will in the world no one can expect developments which have run counter to one another in the 300-year history of the nationstate to be turned round in one generation.

Just take a look at the history of this city in which we are today, the city of Strasbourg. Here you can see the disasters of European history just like in a picture book. And if you consider the voting patterns of the citizens of Strasbourg in the French referendum then you have an answer to your question: and it shows that people in this region have understood where their future lies, namely in Europe.

We must be careful. It is part of the spirit of the times for people to be permanently pessimistic. I see no reason to be pessimistic. Let me say something of a personal nature: on my eighteenth birthday on 3 April 1948 I needed a permit in my home town of Ludwigshafen to go from one side of the Rhine to the other, right in the middle of Germany. And then, on the other hand, I look at my children’s generation: they go right across Europe; they have thought on a European scale for a long time now.

Many things, of course, have not turned out so well, but what did we really expect? If all of us here in this Chamber who lived at that time ask ourselves for one minute whether we would have thought it possible in 1950 for us to sit here in such a gathering we shall, if we are honest, reply: no one would have thought it possible. And how long is the intervening period? It is forty years. What are forty years compared with the whole of European history? Absolutely nothing! In the tapestry of European history it is a tiny part of the weave. Those of us who fight for Europe should therefore not let the word “crisis” pass our lips.

Secondly, I believe it is a very German discussion – after all we make everything into a philosophy – when we speak of “two speeds”. I must say – and perhaps in your eyes I am not a real German for this reason – I am quite pragmatic about this. I want the train to move ahead, as fast as possible, let me take that quite clear. When the Swiss now say – a Swiss colleague has addressed this issue – that they are not yet with us, then you must be familiar with Swiss history and a lot else besides. However, I am quite certain (to reply to our Swiss colleague) that they will vote “Yes” in the third ballot. Let me tell you why: because the people in Switzerland will be doing their sums during the third ballot. The Swiss are good at sums. Then they will see that being in the economic and monetary union is good for the franc. And then you will vote “Yes”.

I am not being ironic when I say this to you: I say it respectfully. I wish the Germans had been able to do their sums in the course of history; we would have been better off. I am not saying this with any sort of hidden meaning.

Let us take the Twelve. People say one or two may not go along with the rest. I do not believe this. I believe the Treaty of Maastricht will be ratified by all twelve countries. However, in the event that one of them does not join in, the law must stipulate that it is not the slowest ship which determines the speed of the whole convoy. However, they will all inevitably come along. Our Norwegian colleagues present here today will sometimes say: if only we had taken that step at the time we would not have all this bother and would have got further than we are. Believe me, the train of history is on course for the unification of Europe, whether people believe it or not.

I do, of course, know that chanceries everywhere still have all the old documents, and it is of course difficult to admit now that in 1919 when the then Yugoslavia was established things may have been overlooked in St Germain and Trianon which cannot be overlooked today, and this is a problem which arises for our generation. Nevertheless, we must face this issue.

Europe is an independent unit. However, this unit is not directed against the United States of America. I have always said that for German policies this is not a question of “either/or” but of “both/and”. I am a passionate supporter of the Atlantic Alliance, but that does not alter the fact that we must move forward in Germany and in Europe.

The German-French Corps, which I helped establish, is not conceived as being anti anything. I think that this year two, or perhaps three, European countries will join. This Corps is not directed against anyone. However – and we discussed this when François Mitterand was in Bonn recently – it is a fantastic idea for young Germans to be able to do their military service in a French unit and Young Frenchmen in a German unit. Just think what the implications of this are. Nevertheless, they still remain Germans and Frenchmen. We must eventually come to think as these young people think, and they will be walking a different road in the twenty-first century.

As far as Vienna is concerned, I can only say that I am for everything which brings us further along the road to European integration. I am especially in favour of a message being sent out from Vienna to those countries which are finding their way to democracy that they are not just being supported by words but also by deeds. The Russians, Ukrainians and others hear expressions of support every day. When, for example, it is a question of warding off the enormous danger presented by their atomic power stations, which do not meet modem safety standards, we have to realise the consequences for the millions of people who could be affected. People there expect help from us, not just documents which we ceremoniously sign.

If Vienna is a place of work during this conference, if really tangible decisions are taken, then I am all for it; that will be a good thing. And I think there is a good chance this will be the case.

Mr COLUMBERG (Switzerland) (translation)

Chancellor, you referred to Vienna and the danger that the only outcome will be fine declarations. So are you prepared to take concrete initiatives to ensure that serious preparations are made in order to make Vienna a success for the Council of Europe, that is to ensure that it leads to the strengthening of this institution and the enhancement of its status, and a complete success for Europe?

Mr BONNICI (Malta)

Mr Kohl, you have publicly stated that you support Malta’s application for EC membership and that Malta should be included in the first enlargement process. In the joint Malta European Parliament session last week, the representative of the European Commission took the line that although the opinion on Malta’s application was ready, the Commission was awaiting the go-ahead from the Council of Ministers. Can you enlighten us on the reason for the delay in the issue of the opinion? What steps should be taken to accelerate the process, which in Malta’s case appears to be too slow?

Mr BOLINAGA (Spain) (interpretation)

asked how the concept of subsidiarity would apply in the European union.

Mr Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (translation)

I turn first of all to the question of a federal structure. I am convinced federalist, but I am not here now to give advice to others. Each European country has a different tradition and a different history. The most stupid thing said in recent German history was “The German character will cure the ills of the world”. Please forget that utterance, it no longer exists. We have our experience in our country, you have yours, but I think that federalism most closely meets the aspirations of people in our time. The nature of subsidiarity is, after all, that decisions should best be taken in places close to the grassroots, where the citizen can be reached, and not in some remote central organisation.

It is remarkable that all the big centralised states in the world are currently undergoing such a process of fédéralisation. However, let there be no doubt: federalism is not separatism, it is something completely different. Federalism means respecting the given situation in a country, and the given situation in Germany is such that the way the Bavarians see themselves is different to that of many people in north Germany, Berlin or elsewhere.

I come from a neighbouring region, from Rhineland-Palatinate. The Palatinate has always been my home, Germany is my fatherland, and Europe is my future. This is the way T should like to define it.

If I have understood you correctly, you mean by your question that people live, for example, in a Spanish region and no longer need the Spanish state. This is, of course, not my idea of federalism, I wish to make that quite plain. I did not choose my trio without good reason.

For me subsidiarity means that people’s understanding of democracy – more than that, the deep feeling many people have, especially the younger generation – is that they know that this state is a necessity, they know what rights and obligations society expects and demands. But they do not want this decreed, they want to be able to understand it. There is a big difference. The old-style authoritarian state is dead, even though there are many bureaucrats sitting in their offices who still do not believe it. In the eyes of our young people it has been dead a long time. This is also a piece of living democracy and a message which the Council of Europe, for example, could send out to the newly emerging democracies which are laboriously making their way into the future but cannot learn democracy overnight – like Russia, which had no democracy between 1917 and 1990 (and no one, with the best will in the world, can say that the country was a flourishing democracy before 1917). We must not forget that.

To put this in concrete terms, the word subsidiarity must be translated into action. I am a convinced supporter of local self-government. I believe that in Europe it will have a tremendous effect if the lowest level of government, namely that of the municipalities, is strengthened. The second level I would mention is what we call Lander and what others term regions. They must also intensify their work with one another.

Let me give you an example from my home country, Germany: Franco-German friendship – something was said earlier about inter-governmental relations – has certainly been promoted most through twinnings between municipalities. In Germany there are over 3 000 municipalities – from large cities to small villages – which have a partner in France. So it is not just François Mitterand and Helmut Kohl, and not just Adenauer and de Gaulle, who meet. That is one thing – if they harmonise well with one another this is not necessarily a drawback – but the decisive factor is that the mayors, councillors, sports clubs and schools get together.

We are trying at the moment, with some difficulty, to develop relations with Poland. The important thing is that people should come together, not only officials, although it does no harm when French and German municipal councillors get together and both curse Bonn and Paris. They have something European in common. The list could be extended at will.

On the subject of Malta I have no objections. I have always supported its membership.

Mr van der LINDEN (Netherlands) (translation)

Chancellor, I should first of all like to thank you for your speech, a speech you also gave last week in your own parliament and which was much appreciated.

My question is: is it not necessary for our stability that new initiatives be taken with respect to the development of central and eastern Europe? The Federal Republic of Germany does a tremendous amount, but in my opinion the other European countries do shamefully little.

I should like to hear from you what new initiatives can be taken.

Mr MUEHLEMANN (Switzerland) (translation)

Chancellor, you are considered to be one of those who know the central and eastern European scene best. Gorbachev’s reform course has come to a standstill after seven fat years and we have a period of “restoration”.

What can one do from outside to get things moving again, and for example, guarantee human rights and push ahead with the democratic processes?

Mr PECCHIOLI (Italy) (translation)

Mr Kohl, your government has heavy economic commitments on account of German unification. My question to you is this.

Might the huge effort being made by Germany because of German unification not have a somewhat adverse influence first on the process of European unification, secondly on the help and assistance Germany can give to the former communist countries and lastly on the help the whole world expects Germany to give to the underdeveloped countries of the Third World?

Mr Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (translation)

As I have just said, and will repeat: if one looks at the period available to Russia for democratic development during this century, one sees that the problems which we, for example, have in the new German Lander are puny compared with the problems facing Russia. For this reason I find a large proportion of western expectations quite simply crazy. What did people expect? That the communist party would disappear overnight and a blossoming country with democracy and all its trappings would result? Anyone who is honest with himself should look at the history of his own country and see how long it took to reach the standard which is taken for granted here in the Council of Europe. If you bear this in mind there is, I believe, no reason at all to say the Russians will not manage it.

Russia is a huge country, the Russians are a great people. They are a people with their own dynamism, an almost mystical dynamism, with a culture which is one of the world’s advanced cultures. The people there must now sort themselves out. What they need from us is not intellectual tutelage but real help – material aid – and that is necessarily limited. It can only be help to enable them to help themselves. It is pointless to support things there which have become meaningless and untenable.

We must help them to help themselves. There must be help on the intellectual level, for example training in economics, and much more besides. I think we could do a lot more in Europe with little money.

We all have universities at home. If every university in the countries represented here which is at all able to do so decided to create a real partnership with universities in Russia or the Ukraine, that is to say the CIS states, that would not cost much money. If that were to happen, young people studying somewhere or other, be it in St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Novosibirsk or elsewhere, would see that they are part of the same world, that people like them, are not afraid of them any more, are receptive to inquiries. A lot more could be done here.

One thing can be done by the Council of Europe: when Russia knocks on the door here and says: “We want to join”, then the answer should be “Yes”, but on one condition, namely that the high standards set by the Council of Europe are adhered to, so that a show of special goodwill does not lead to a lower standard. That would be quite the wrong policy. If the demands made here correspond to the standard required, that offers a man like Boris Yeltsin the best chance of moving things forward at home. A parliament must be a real parliament. That is one of the conditions. There must be a truly independent judiciary – and a lot more besides.

Now the next question. I hear this again and again. You know, it is difficult to give an answer. For me, German unification does not pose a threat to anyone. On the contrary, I have actually always believed that if the Germans are doing their own housework, from the point of view of those people who are afraid they are occupied with something. Actually, everyone should be content that the Germans are occupied at home. Looking at it from this aspect I cannot see any danger.

We do, of course, have problems at the moment, because we are fully affected by the dramatic consequences of the collapse of the economy, which has happened in parallel to the collapse of the economy in the former Soviet Union. But you can rest assured that really flourishing regions will emerge. It will take a few years longer than I, or indeed others, believed but the German economy can manage. The problem for us is not being unable to manage, but whether we realise that with German unification and the disappearance of the East-West conflict we have entered a new dimension as far as our thinking is concerned, that we cannot say in the old Lander that we shall just carry on as before and that all that has nothing to do with us. Rather, we must say that we can continue to live very well but perhaps not have a growth rate of so and so many per cent every year, we must realise that we can bake small cakes for a few years which taste very good, but not bigger cakes every year.

Moreover, if the Germans do not overcome the economic and social problems posed by German unification, then all of you sitting here will despair of the Germans. Then you will say they are not the Germans they used to be. That alone – and I also say this to my fellow-Germans – is an argument for us to come to our senses and say: We must cut out coat according to our cloth.

It is true – as far as the Third World is concerned – that we cannot, of course, do everything at the same time. We discussed this at the conference in Rio last year. Only I must say that there is a trend at the United Nations at the moment which I do not accept: people talk about the Third World, but the misery of the inhabitants of central and eastern Europe goes unremarked. Of course the countries affected in Africa, Latin America and Asia are our special responsibility, but I cannot ignore the fact that the people in central and south-eastern Europe, some of them suffering from worse economic circumstances, are not taken into account because their countries do not count as part of the Third World in the traditional sense. If someone says to me: “You do too little for the Third World”, then I must say to him: “All right, you add up the sums we are providing to ensure stability in central and south-eastern Europe and add on the money given to the Third World!”

Moreover, some people in the Third World – I am thinking, for example, of certain heads of state and government in North Africa who visit me – must realise that they will have to change their way of thinking. When one of them says I should give him three Leopard tanks, that is not what I understand by aid to the Third World. It is time we thought about what happens to this money, and that has nothing to do with our telling them what to do. This also has to be said, because it is taxpayers’ money. The citizens have given it to us and we have to account for it.

Mr REHN (Finland)

Unemployment is rising rapidly all over Europe and it is causing pessimism that also hurts the process of European unification. In order to turn the tide we need urgently concerted European action to pull down real interest rates to stimulate investment in industrial production and infrastructure. Considering the formidable economic and industrial strength of Germany, and the responsibility that that carries for the entire European economy, I therefore ask whether Germany can contribute to that kind of European stimulation policy?

Mr HUGHES (United Kingdom)

There have been persistent reports and allegations in the British press that Germany has been responsible for the high interest rates that have helped to bring about and aggravate the present recession. Those high interest rates are partly due to inflation in Germany, which, in turn, followed German re-unification. Do you agree with this analysis? If so, are you not concerned about its negative effect on the currencies of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain and Portugal? In this context, what future can you see for the European exchange rate mechanism?

Mr VALLEIX (France) (translation)

Chancellor, the unification of Germany and the end of the cold war are happy and historic events.

Germany’s effort to get the area of the former German Democratic Republic back on its feet involves, inter alia, calls for international savings, rather than tax increases. The resulting high interest rates sometimes cause problems, weighing as heavily on Europe as on Germany itself.

Returning to MrRehn’s question: do you envisage, yourself or through the Bundesbank, measures in the near future to ease this constraint slightly?

Mr GONZÂLEZ LAXE (Spain) (interpretation)

said that the effects of German unification had led to disasters in currency markets last September and at the beginning of this year. He asked whether German monetary policy was responsible for this situation.

Mr BANKS (United Kingdom)

Herr Chancellor, you warned us not to use the word “crisis”, so perhaps I should say that we have a lot of problems with the exchange rate mechanism. It is quite clear that the Single Market cannot function with those enormous currency movements. Is it not time to move as rapidly as possible towards a single currency and also to do something about the parasitic behaviour of the currency speculators by re-aligning the exchange rate mechanism?

Mr GARCIA SÂNCHEZ (Spain) (interpretation)

said that he agreed with the points raised. He asked whether the Chancellor should not have concentrated more on economic problems.

Sir Dudley SMITH (United Kingdom)

I have considerable sympathy for the sentiments that you, Mr Kohl, expressed about making German one of the official languages of the Council of Europe. Do you also accept, however, that languages such as Italian and Spanish also have a strong claim? This would all cost money. When you get to Vienna for the summit about the Council of Europe, or if you have an opportunity before, will you tell your fellow heads of government that there should be a far more realistic funding of the Council of Europe if it is to expand its work?

Mr Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (translation)

I wish first of all to say something on the last question. If you look at the map of Europe and the number of people living there who speak German as their mother tongue or otherwise, then our wish is, I think, not unreasonable. I have absolutely nothing against other languages. I must say to you quite openly that when I consider all the things we spend money on in Europe I find the financial argument rather strange. Just think of all the things we have financed in Europe in the last forty years, and here I am speaking of every conceivable field. So I think the financial argument concerning translation and everything connected with it is unconvincing.

I have here, of course, not spoken about economic issues because that was not my main subject. I have no problems in this respect.

I must say to you that I do not produce arguments for the benefit of British newspapers, I do not produce arguments for the benefit of any newspapers. If I were to side with some of the German newspapers I should not be sitting here but would have ceased being Chancellor long ago, I should have disappeared long ago, ladies and gentlemen. I therefore try to organise my arguments somewhat differently.

I do not believe that there is much point in apportioning blame in this way. I should like to say to our British colleagues: If I am not mistaken German unification was in 1990, but I cannot remember the British economy being in a brilliant state in 1980. There is no point blaming the Germans for everything. That is an old and popular game. I could counter-attack but I do not wish to do so.

For Europeans – including the Germans – German unification was big business in the first two years. If you take the figures for exports to Germany – your President from Spain could give the figure – exports from Spain in 1990 soared by 41 % due to German unification, which was quite a normal thing.

Of course we have problems, but I must first of all make clear the principles involved. We have an independent Bundesbank, though many people in Europe still do not believe that. And I am firmly in favour of the Bundesbank remaining independent, even though on some days when I am sitting alone at my desk I think it would be quite useful if I could just turn the screw a little. But that would be wrong. I am firmly convinced that it is very important for us in the coming monetary union also to have a European central bank committed only to currency stability.

We have to consider two points. We must do everything to get the world economy going again, and, completely independently of the developments in central Europe, there are for the first time brighter prospects for the American economy. The American economy was declining and that had nothing at all to do with German unification. So those arguments are incorrect, as is evident simply from looking at the calendar.

Our objective in Germany must be – and this is our responsibility because the mark is, whether we like it or not, a leading currency – that we do our housework as quickly as possible, as a prerequisite for lowering interest rates. We are engaged in this difficult process, and all the criticism of me that you can read in the newspapers at the moment has precisely to do with this.

In the past two years we have had excessive wage and salary increases in the public sector and elsewhere. We are in the process of saving many, many billions in the national budget, in other words we are bringing expenditure down. In principle, all the other countries in Europe are doing the same. We must now, in the coming weeks and months – I deliberately speak of weeks because the actual decisions will be taken in the next three weeks, four at most – we must react to overall developments by taking drastic measures to create the prerequisites for cuts in interest rates, and we are in the middle of this process at the moment.

When you speak about interest rates please remember that interest rates on investments, that is long-term rates, are not particularly high, so for many people this argument is just an excuse. You have to take a close look at things to see this point in the proper light.

Because it has been mentioned, and because I consider it very important, I wish to say that I am convinced that we urgently need the European exchange rate mechanism, but as a preliminary step: monetary union must be our actual objective, and it is the most important prerequisite for countering the turbulence on the currency markets caused by international speculation which we have experienced in the past few weeks and months. We shall not escape from this situation unless we achieve monetary union as quickly as we can, one condition for this being the convergence of our economic policies.

I cannot give simple reasons for what I am saying, but I should like to say it out loud here, so that it will be heard in Europe: from much of what I have seen and heard in the last few months as far as turbulence on the currency markets is concerned, it is my impression that there are perhaps forces at work causing this turbulence in order, among other things, to prevent monetary union coming about at all. That is my impression – and not only mine – and it is based on a large number of indicators. I conclude from this that we must make progress as fast as possible.

So, let me say two things. Firstly, you can assume that both I and the government I lead will do our utmost at the political level in Germany to ensure, by means of a stringent budgetary and economy policy, that the inflation rate is brought down as swiftly as possible, because inflation always hits the broad mass of people on low incomes.

Secondly, we shall do everything to create the conditions for the necessary decisions on interest rates to be taken. I also believe that the ideas we are currently discussing within the EC will be effective.

Mr WIELOWIEYSKI (Poland) (translation)

Chancellor, Germany and Poland, in the treaty of November 1990 and in the subsequent exchange of letters, guaranteed that citizens of German origin living in Poland and those of Polish origin living in Germany would be able to develop their cultural identity. Polish citizens long resident in Germany were also covered. I have been questioned in Berlin and Hamburg about the difficulties experienced in respect of their cultural needs by these large numbers of people – there are hundreds of thousands of them.

Do you think that a fundamental change in this sphere will be possible?

Mr KARAKA§ (Turkey) (translation)

Chancellor, you mentioned in your speech that a number of foreigners, especially Turks, have been the victims of racist attacks in the past year. I should like to ask you what concrete measures your Federal Government is taking in order to halt this dangerous development.

Mr PILARSKI (Poland) (translation)

Chancellor, Germany and Poland have been in a completely new co-operation phase for three years now. I should now like to put to you another question relating to the economic sector, specifically the labour-market.

It is very important for Polish workers, going beyond wage issues, to be able to gain practical knowledge of the modem functioning of German firms, by which I mean their organisation, efficiency, etc.

Mr FOSCHI (Italy) (translation)

Mr Kohl, a pressing and more complicated topic, where attention focuses on Germany, is that of immigration and requests for asylum. What steps do you consider necessary in order to devise a proper European immigration policy which takes account of the east-west and North-South relationship and in which the Council of Europe plays an enhanced role which looks beyond the borders of the Twelve?

Mr KILIÇ (Turkey) (interpretation)

asked about Turkish/German relations.

Mr Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (translation)

I simply do not understand the last question. I do not know who is going to cause you trouble if you serve the cause of German-Turkish friendship. A few fundamental remarks on the question of relations between Germany and Turkey. The Germans and the Turks are linked together by very old, very close and very amicable ties of friendship. In the course of history there are few countries with which the Germans have had such an uninterrupted relationship lasting hundreds of years. Consequently we have viewed with particular horror what has happened to some Turkish citizens – for reasons of xenophobia and radicalism and all that goes with them. However, that is not typical, I must repeat that.

There are over two million Turks living in our country. In my home town of Ludwigshafen, which has 150 000 inhabitants, there are about 20 000 non-Germans, of whom between 6 500 and 7 000 are Turks. They have lived among us for many years, without any real problems – not with the Germans an any rate. They live their own lives. Moreover, the value of goods and services produced by the town would be inconceivable without the work done by these Turks. We brought them here, it was not their own idea. That is not the problem. People muddle everything up, including, for example, the question of asylum. I shall come to that problem directly.

Of course new problems arise every day. let me give you a concrete example from my home town. There are Turkish married couples who have lived for twenty or thirty years there. Their children have grown up in my home town. They live, as it were, between two cultures, and often fall between two stools. They have German boyfriends or girlfriends. And when something happens that affects the tradition of the family, because this is a family from Anatolia – and the case caused quite a stir in Germany – when a 16-year-old girl is married off by her father and she says “No, I won’t do it”, and when the entire school supports the girl, that has nothing to do with German-Turkish enmity but with the clash of two cultures which is extremely hard for just a child to cope with. That is a fact, and of course it has tremendous consequences.

Basically I just want to say that we shall have to amend the immigration legislation for those who were bom in Germany and want to stay there, those who acquire German citizenship in this way. Secondly, we must realise that some of our fellow citizens from Turkey do not want to live any differently from the way they do now.

Let me say something else: if you go to a big German city you will see that ten or twelve mosques are operating there, to use the current word. I once asked a Turkish friend: “What would you say if twelve Catholic monasteries were to be opened up in Anatolia?” You simply have to realise that this is not political malice but cultural differences colliding with one another in a very dramatic way.

Nevertheless, Turkey is one of the most important countries in Europe and within the European sphere of influence, and my policy is absolutely clear: to reach solutions to enable us to have proper dealings with one another in the future as well.

I shall say it again: especially in my own home town and the surrounding area it is inconceivable that hostility should develop towards the Turks or that we should want to send the Turks home. If we did we would have to realise at the same time that with our short working week, working month, working year and working life we could no longer earn the gross domestic product we have now.

I now come to the subject of asylum-seekers. This is quite a different issue, and it is a bad thing that the subject of guest workers in Germany, and internationally, is confused with the issue of asylum. Ladies and gentlemen, last year we had 450 000 asylum-seekers in Germany who had come for economic reasons. Let each one of you sitting here now calculate how many, after making due allowance for the size of the population, there would be in his or her own country. And please consider how much in social benefits the German state pays to each of these asylum-seekers. What would people’s reaction in your country be, I should like to ask. That is the question you must ask yourselves.

The difficulty we have is that the problems of the world cannot be resolved in Germany. I have a lot of understanding for people somewhere or other in the world who see no future prospects at home and suddenly face the possibility of coming to Germany. In fact they do not want to go to Germany per se, but to where they will find the German mark. This is the reality of the matter. And they want a different life with better social benefits. But this cannot be done when more and more people come to Germany. When – as has happened – a Jumbo lands in Frankfurt from Sri Lanka and the people who get off are simply not seeking asylum on racial, political or religious grounds but come for understandable economic reasons, we cannot solve their problems in Germany.

Incidentally, we cannot solve them in Europe either, let this be clear. We therefore need, for elementary reasons, a common European policy on asylum. It should not be thought that these problems can be solved in a different way in Vienna than in Frankfurt or in Frankfurt in a different way than in Rome. This is how things are, the more stable Europe again becomes economically, when we have overcome the present recession, the greater will be the pressure on us from people living in all the poor countries in the world.

I should like to make one thing absolutely clear: when our constitution, the Basic Law, was written in 1948, the men and women – and they were wonderful people – who had experienced die nazi period, who had come out of the concentration camps and the prisons, included in it the right to asylum on political, racial or religious grounds – the only constitution in the world to have this provision. No one wants to change that. We have never had a problem with people seeking asylum on political grounds. The problem comes from the enormous rise in applications in the meantime.

You must know – but very few people do know this – that parallel to the asylum-seekers we have hundreds of thousands of Germans and people of German extraction, for example from Romania and Russia, who came at the same time. Over two million people of German extraction live in Russia, and they are seizing this opportunity to say they would like to return. So we must solve the problem sensibly together.

I now come to the subject of Poland. I did not understand why Poles are supposed to be having difficulties in Germany. We have areas in the Ruhr where Polish workers live who immigrated eighty or ninety years ago, around the turn of the century. One of die most famous German football clubs, Schalke 04, distinguished itself for many years because of players with Polish names. And here, in the middle of Germany, the Catholic Church made it an unwritten precondition then, all those years ago, that when young priests were ordained they should be able to speak Polish, so that they could be able to hear confessions and do spiritual welfare and pastoral work in Polish. I really cannot see that we have problems here.

We have a complicated history in our relations with Poland. What we have managed to achieve with France we must also achieve with Poland, but it will take time. I can only repeat that I passionately support efforts for more peace, friendship and partnership with Poland. Accordingly we also want to boost considerably our economic relations with Poland, which is not so simple because many people in Poland will then say – and I can at least respect this argument, although I cannot accept it because it is absolutely wrong – that this is the beginning of the Germanisation of the Polish economy.

As you see, whatever we do someone expresses reservations, and we must live with this. However, we succeeded with France and we shall succeed with Poland.

However, I must also tell you what we cannot do: we cannot throw the German labour-market wide open. We have our own problems at the moment. We now have a common employment market in the European Community, and it is therefore not possible to open up our borders, as it were, to countries outside the Community. We do, however, have a fixed quota for Poland, and if you go to large building sites in Germany today you will find many where more Polish is spoken than German. Incidentally, that is also a problem the Germans have: the fact that too few of them work on building sites, but that is a different subject.

Mr HARDY (United Kingdom)

Given Germany’s achievement as it proceeds with a successful reunification and bearing in mind the detailed investigation which followed the export of armaments by his administration to Iraq in 1991, will Hen-Kohl not seek to use both the capacity that he can demonstrate and the knowledge that he has gained, to seek to ensure that the embargo on arms trading with the former Yugoslavia is made effective? Do we not have to do that if Europe is to demonstrate that its inability to recognise and respond to crisis, and the folly with which it allowed a sovereign state to be broken up without proper transitional arrangements, will, nevertheless, allow us to enter the twenty-first century with any hope of success?

Mr BAUMEL (France) (translation)

Chancellor, Europe is impotent in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the United Nations, in the shape of its blue berets, is being held up to ridicule.

What are your feelings following the failure of the Geneva Conference?

Can you propose a possible way of finding a political settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Mr PANGALOS (Greece) (translation)

Chancellor, public opinion in our countries seems increasingly disappointed by the European Community’s inability to find a fair and lasting solution to the Yugoslav conflict.

At the same time, the Atlantic initiative appears to be reaching its limits. Do you think that the time has come for the Community to start a new diplomatic initiative? I am thinking first and foremost of a Franco-German proposal. Or are we going to hand the Yugoslav issue over to the United Nations, in other words to the new United States Administration?


I should like to know how you would interpret the attitude of your government vis-à-vis the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. What is your clear approach so far, concerning a solution to the drama?

Mr FABRA (Spain) (interpretation)

asked whether Mr Kohl was aware that German companies violated the embargo in Yugoslavia.

Mr KONIG (Austria) (translation)

Chancellor, permit me first of all as a member of the Austrian Parliament to thank you for the great personal effort you put in to ensure the success of the Edinburgh Summit, which also opened up the way for my country’s negotiations to join the EC.

In your speech you pointed out the importance of fair arrangements for minorities. Will the German Federal Government do its best to ensure that the additional protocol to the Convention on Human Rights on the protection of minorities is signed before the Vienna Summit?

Mr ROKOFYLLOS (Greece) (translation)

The question I wished to put to Chancellor Kohl, and which I tabled yesterday in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, related to the resurgence of nationalism in Germany, and the Chancellor has already given a comprehensive and satisfactory reply in his statement and in his answers to colleagues’ questions.

I therefore withdraw my question, but wish to voice my hope that healthy reactions among the German people will continue and draconian and effective measures be taken by the German authorities.

Mr GALANOS (Cyprus)

Cyprus is the last divided country in Europe as a result of foreign intervention. Your country, Mr Kohl, has been divided, and foreign troops were stationed in part of Germany. Yet Germany was a founder member of the European Community, which ultimately helped your reunification. How do you feel, Mr Kohl, about the application that has been made by Cyprus to join the European Community? We feel that our positive approach will similarly encourage us in our efforts to achieve reunification.

Mr Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (translation)

Mr President, the last group of questions relates to issues to which much cleverer people in Europe have had to apply their minds every day for months, and you expect a ready-made answer in eight minutes. I cannot, of course, do that: I surrender at once. I can only express certain views.

I would say to our colleague from Cyprus that, if you ask me, this is the most absurd anachronism I know – that we in the middle of Europe cannot resolve the Cyprus problem. I tell you now how I feel about this, as I have done on many other occasions: with a little good will from both of the main parties concerned it really ought, in my opinion, to be possible to resolve it, because it is high time that this anachronism was brought to an end. Perhaps it will be possible in the time we have at our disposal to make a little progress with the two countries directly concerned, and of course with the people in Cyprus who are affected.

I do not believe that we shall have lasting peace in Europe if we are not capable of finding solutions in those areas which have waited for a decision far too long, if we are unable to sit down together and bring about a solution. I have no easy answer to offer you here, but I have pointed out in many discussions with those responsible that this is a wound which should have healed long ago. It is something that is long overdue.

As far as arms exports are concerned, we have a strict ban on arms exports to the territory of the former Yugoslavia. We have stringent laws. When companies are found infringing them, they are prosecuted accordingly. I do not believe that it would be sensible for us to act differently.

As regards the opinion expressed by our colleague Mr Kdnig, from Austria, I cannot promise this, but if there is to be any point in the Vienna Conference it would of course be helpful to do what you ask in your question. I shall look into the matter. Since such a conference is being held I see us morally called upon here to issue a special declaration, a solemn declaration as it were, on the issue of minorities. This goes beyond the actual text itself. It will have an important psychological effect.

Consider the borders throughout the whole of Europe. We shall not reach a peaceful solution by continually trying to draw new borders. All these borders will create new injustices. I do not claim that the old borders are always just, but new borders immediately create new injustices. And how do you expect ultimately this to achieve an arrangement based on reason and compromise?

To my mind, what we are now seeing in Bosnia-Herzegovina – a question has been asked about ethnic cleansing – is the most abominable thing that has happened in the world for a long time. I am thinking in particular about the fate of the women involved. I believe we should all do much more by way of humanitarian aid wherever we can help the women concerned – and I am also addressing my fellow Germans here. Even if we cannot prevent the terrible killing and shooting from continuing, I do believe that all Europeans – and this is also my position in the EC – could do more in the way of humanitarian aid, for example concrete on-the-spot assistance for refugees.

We should not support the tendency to take these refugees and expellees to remote parts of the world and thus play into the hands of those who drive them away. Instead, we should keep them in the vicinity in reasonable decent conditions so that they can later return to their homes. Otherwise the aim of these brutal policies will have been achieved, if these people are expelled and then given no chance to go back.

I believe we must also work together here. We cannot say it is the responsibility of the United Nations, the EC or the Americans. We have had a new American administration for a few days now. The American Secretary of State Vance has stated in the recent few days that the administration is currently working on a policy for the territory of former Yugoslavia. We are involved in this process. We are trying to give advice and support.

From my point of view the most important thing we must now try to do is to arrange for the shooting to stop as quickly as possible. That in itself does not mean peace, far from it, but we must first of all bring these acts of barbarism to an end, get the camps opened up and get people around the world talking about this issue. We cannot close our eyes to the terrible things people there are going through.

However, we also know that those whose advice is to resolve the problem by means of a massive land war will in the end resolve nothing. The awful thing about this whole business is that our hands are tied. I personally believe that those who really wield the power are still not feeling the full impact of international obloquy. If they did feel it one or other of them would certainly be prepared to listen to reason.

I should like to say here once again on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany that where we can do something, especially in the area of humanitarian aid – this also has to do with domestic considerations – we want to do everything humanly possible.

Mr President, my final remark concerns something you said in your words of introduction – I forgot to mention this earlier. I am one of those people in Germany, and I strive passionately to put this message across, who say to our fellow Germans that, now that we have been given the present of reunification, we cannot run for cover when the storms of history come down upon us. We are a country of 80 million people. We have achieved reunification with the help of all our neighbours and partners. Many people, especially our friends in the west, helped preserve peace and freedom in the old Federal Republic for forty years. For long enough we had the excuse that we could not participate because we were a divided country. We are a member of the United Nations, and where there are rights there are also obligations. I consider it an affront to the dignity of our country if, as a full member of the United Nations, we do not now also assume the full responsibilities that fall to a country like Germany. The world expects this. Anything else would be a disgrace for our country.