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Germany’s Chancellor Wants Strong UN Role In Iraq

Germany’s Chancellor Wants Strong UN Role In Iraq

"We simply can't keeping going on the same way as in the past"

In an interview granted to RTL television on August 28 Chancellor Schröder discussed the concept of justice in connection with Agenda 2010 reforms, reform proposals put forward by the Rürup Commission, and Germany's involvement in Afghanistan. Speaking to journalists in the Chancellery garden, Schröder said he would like to see a stronger role for the United Nations in Iraq, adding that he would like to help achieve this.

Schröder speaks to journalists in the Chancellery garden.

Schröder reiterated the objectives being pursued under the Agenda 2010 program, noting that the reform efforts are aimed at "achieving justice under radically changed economic conditions." He said justice today means not only ensuring a fair distribution of wealth but to an increasing extent also ensuring fair access to education, regardless of one's social origins. He indicated that the objective is to move from merely ensuring a fair distribution of income towards ensuring greater investments in the development of modern technologies: "That is the core task of Agenda 2010. ... We simply can't keep going on the same way as in the past. This not only concerns companies and the self-employed. It also concerns members of the labor force."

With regard to the Rürup Commission's proposals on future financing of the social security system Schröder noted that they are being evaluated and that it is not yet possible to say whether every proposal put forward can be taken into account. On the issue of moving the retirement age up to 67 he said there will be a need first of all to move the average retirement age of around 60 back up to the current statutory age of 65. "This is also a task for industry to address, since the current trend is for industrial companies to lay off people who are 55 and older, sometimes starting at even younger ages." Schröder went on to say that the objective of the reforms is to create a viable social security system, adding that the governing coalition and the opposition need to assume joint responsibility in this matter.

Schröder reaffirmed his goal of bringing the national budget deficit back down below three percent, saying that if his government's reforms are not blocked in the Bundesrat by oppositional state governments then it will be possible to achieve this goal on the basis of the economic growth that will follow the reforms.

Involvement in Afghanistan not a substitute for military absence in Iraq

Concerning the question of Germany's military involvement at the international level Schröder noted that an expansion of the military mission in Afghanistan beyond Kabul is not a substitute for a military absence in Iraq.

Schröder noted that a consequence of the terrorist attacks September 11, 2001 was the fight against terrorism in the framework of Operation Enduring Freedom. An important aspect of the fight against international terrorism is the process of nation building, in this case the process of rebuilding Afghanistan. He said the German armed forces contingent has successfully begun this process in Kabul.

"It was only after we concluded it would be conscionable that we said we would send a reconstruction team into the northern part of the country as well and provide a military force to protect it." He emphasized that this decision had nothing to do with any other considerations.

Schröder noted that notwithstanding the position his government took on going to war in Iraq, Germany had a fundamental national interest in seeing the process of stabilizing and democratizing Iraq succeed. He spoke out in favor of a stronger, more important political role for the United Nations, saying that he would like to be involved in helping to achieve this.

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