Rice IV With Germanys BILD Zeitung Newspaper
Interview With Kai Diekmann and Jorg Quoos of Germany's BILD Zeitung Newspaper
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
February 4, 2005
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you began your European trip by visiting Britain, the closest ally of the United States. The very next stop was Berlin. Was your visit to Chancellor Schroeder a visit to a friend?
SECRETARY RICE: Absolutely. This is a visit to a friend. The United States share values and we share a lot of history. I have talked several times today about the fact that those of us who have found ourselves on the right side of freedom's divide have an obligation to those who are still seeking freedom, to support them. I think that Germans, more than most, may understand that given the long division of Germany and the fact that the alliance, this strong alliance, was the reason that we were ultimately able to overcome that division and to bring first to a Germany united and then a Europe whole and free. And so this is, by all means, a visit to a friend.
QUESTION: 2002 was election year in Germany and it was a difficult period in German-US relations. How good would you judge the relations today?
SECRETARY RICE: It was a difficult time in the relationship, and we had our differences and it was sometimes very, very hard. But I really do believe that we have turned a new page in the relationship, that we understand that whatever the differences about how we got to where we are, that we have obligations and we have requirements now to build a strong and free and democratic Iraq, a stable Iraq, that we have an obligation to promote reform in the Middle East, that we have an obligation to deal with the threats of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, proliferation. So I find and have found for several months that we are looking forward, and that is very important.
QUESTION: Were the people of America disappointed because of Germany's opposition to the war against Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it is always hard when friends disagree and it is hard on people in both countries. But the good thing is that the foundation of our relationship, our values, are so strong that the relationship has re-emerged strong and vibrant and ready to look forward. It does not mean that there won't be differences in the future, but I do hope that we can always start from the basis from what it is that we have to do together. If we disagree about tactics, that's fine. But our goals should never be in question.
QUESTION: What can Germany do to improve these relations?
SECRETARY RICE: Germany is doing a good deal to deepen our relationship. We have, for instance, the German help to train Iraqi police forces in the UAE; and I believe that the Chancellor is prepared to do more in that regard. We understand that there are limitations on what Germany can do for a number of reasons. But there is plenty that Germany can do, and so one of the things that we talked about is what more can be done to support the Iraqi people. They took enormous risks on Sunday to go and vote. They faced down terrorists. They faced down fear. And we have an obligation to try and help them. So one of the reasons for this visit is to talk about our common agenda and what each of us can do to contribute to achieving that common agenda.
QUESTION: What does the US intend to do to re-build the traditionally good relationship with Germany?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President's coming here is a part of that reinforcement. Of course, the President and the Chancellor have met since, quite a bit before that. They have a good personal relationship. We also have a situation in which Germany and the United States are cooperating in so many places, in so many ways, that we sometimes lose sight of that when we focus on what differences there may be. For instance in Afghanistan, Germany has really been, after the United States, the most important country there in terms of taking a provincial reconstruction area, in terms of, at one point, leading the ISAF effort, in terms of helping with the creation of a civil justice ministry there. So sometimes we lose sight of how much we are doing together. And I should just say that also in terms of cooperation in the war on terror, if you look at the umbrella of intelligence and law enforcement through which we keep the pressure on the terrorists, Germany is a very active member of that and a very active member of the Proliferation Security Initiative which interdicts dangerous cargo in support of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: How important is the European Union, which has increased to twenty-five nations, to the United States right now?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we were one of the earliest supporters of the idea of European Union, going all the way back to the immediate postwar period. And a strong and united Europe can be an indispensable partner for the United States, not just in finishing the European construction, not just in bridging to Turkey and to the Middle East, but in global concerns that we have. We find that we are often in discussion with the European Union about the problems of poverty and disease in the world in places like Africa. That when it comes time to deal with failed states, that we are often in discussion with the European Union about how to support the rehabilitation of states like Haiti or Liberia. So we have a broad agenda with the European Union. It is a global agenda with the European Union. And the stronger it can be, the better it is. As long as the European Union has an open architecture, that is one that is outward-looking and that looks to advance common goals, a stronger European Union is very much in our interest.
QUESTION: What should the role of Germany be as the largest EU nation? What do you expect from Germany within the EU?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the most important thing that we expect from Germany, or that we hope from Germany, is that Germany will remain committed to the harmony of transatlantic and European Union relations. When we talk to new states, for instance when the President was in Poland not too long ago, he said there is no contradiction between your European identity and your transatlantic identity. We firmly believe that. The members of the European Union who have experienced the benefits of the transatlantic alliance among them, perhaps most especially Germany, we would hope would keep that spirit in everything that the European Union does, that there should be no contradiction, no tension between the European identity and the transatlantic identity. Those are the two great pillars of a Europe whole and free and at peace. We have to count on the members of the European Union since we are not members of the European Union to make sure that the European Union, as it moves forward, does so in a way that is harmonious with the transatlantic identity.
QUESTION: How critical do you see these new connections between France, Germany and Russia?
SECRETARY RICE: As long as they are connections that are aimed at pulling Russia toward democratic values, toward the prospect of greater integration into the liberal international economy, those are all very good things. I will say that there was some time ago, particularly around the time of Iraq, a concern that it took on an anti-American cast. That was not a good thing. We were absolutely straightforward in our discussions with our German friends and our discussions with our French friends and in our discussions with the Russians in saying that that was not a good turn of events. But that Germany and France and Russia should all have good relations, that Germany and France should help in pulling Russia toward the west -- that is a very good development, particularly now when we all have concerns about the course that Russia is taking, in terms of Russia's own democratic development. We need everyone pulling in the same direction to help the Russians understand that the kind of deep integration with Europe and with the transatlantic alliance that we all hope for is most especially, most importantly, based on common values.
QUESTION: As security advisor to the President, you were a key player in the fight against Iraq and toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. Has the war against Iraq made the world a safer place?
SECRETARY RICE: It's made the world safer and better, and I have no doubt about it. Historical changes of this magnitude are turbulent, they are turbulent by their very nature. There are ups and downs. Some decisions that you take are good decisions, others decisions are not very good decisions. But the decision that it was time to deal with the threat of Saddam Hussein's regime, that it was time to hold him accountable for the multiple times that he defied the international community, the decision that we were not going to build a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the center of it. Those were all good strategic decisions. We are now beginning, very slowly, but beginning to see what the future could look like with an Iraq that fights terrorists, doesn't harbor and help to sustain them, or pay suicide bombers $25,000 for killing Israelis. We've begun to see what it could be to have an Iraq that is democratic and trying to overcome all of its internal differences by democratic means rather than by oppression. We are starting to see what it could mean to have an Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors instead of threatening its neighbors. It's a young and fragile Iraq that is on the road to democracy, but I would far rather deal with the potential that is there now, with this fragile new Iraq, than live with the false stability of the reign of a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein.
QUESTION: After the Second World War it took about five years to rebuild Germany. So if you would dare taking a look in the future, how long will it take until we see an Iraq standing on its own feet?
SECRETARY RICE: The Iraqis are making progress toward standing on their own feet in various ways. I think we were all impressed for instance with the way that the Iraqis handled the negotiation around their debt relief which, by the way, we owe a good deal to Germany for helping to arrange that - their debt relief. We also have watched the Iraqis increasingly deal with the day-to-day affairs of running a Ministry of Trade, a Ministry of Interior, a Ministry of Finance. They need help in building capacity in those ministries, like any new state needs help.
Where they are most in need of help though right now is in building police and security forces that can actually fight the terrorists- fight the insurgents -who are nothing but former regime elements and Baathists who really want to take Iraq back to the old days. I believe that they took an important step forward on Sunday when, despite the threats of terrorists to do all kinds of terrible things to those who voted, Iraqis went out in large numbers and voted. Now true, there were places where they could not vote, where the intimidation was too great, but they now have an opportunity in writing their constitution, in moving forward through their political system to form a united Iraq, to stand on their own feet politically. That, I think, along with training of their security and police forces, will help them to stand on their own feet in terms of security.
We are there in the coalition under UN auspices, through the resolution that established the coalition for the multinational force and the Iraqis believe that they need us to stay. It is key that we accelerate and work hard to get the Iraqis into a position where they can sustain themselves.
QUESTION: Should the NATO take part in this fight against terror in Iraq?
SECRETARY RICE: Well NATO is playing a role in helping, in leadership training. At this point the key is not foreign forces, it is the training of Iraqis. They are about to have a new government that will write a constitution and in December or January, they'll have a new permanent government. If we concentrate our efforts on training Iraqis to do this work, I think we will be better off than continually worrying about who will come in to do the job for them. We had very good experience- General Casey was telling us - very good experience with the Iraqi security forces in terms of this election. There were virtually no circumstances in which the coalition forces had to step in to do a job that the Iraqi security forces did not do. That is change because the security forces have been variable in their performance, and the fact that they performed well in support of their own democratic experience is a very good sign.
QUESTION: The Berlin government aspires to a permanent seat in the Security Council, you know. In your opinion, is that really a realistic hope?
SECRETARY RICE: Well we certainly in terms of overall UN Security reform need to look at how we're going to make sure that the important institutions of the United Nations are reflective of today's circumstances. And we are very active in the UN reform debate. I think that this all has to be done in the broad context of all UN reforms, and so we look forward to continuing to work with all governments that are involved to see how we can make the Security Council and other institutions appropriate to today's trends.
QUESTION: The free and fair elections in Iraq were not the only ones to take place since the beginning of the year. We saw what happened with the Palestinians, we see probably something's happening in Egypt. Is there a chance for what they call democratization in the Middle East?
SECRETARY RICE: I absolutely think that there is a chance because the value, the human dignity that is afforded by freedom, the universal value of seeking liberty, these are values that don't stop at the borders of the Middle East. That's what we're really seeing. We're seeing it with Iraqis in the broader Middle East context, we saw it with Afghans, we've seen it with Palestinians who have further elections ahead of them and need still to build democratic institutions. It is something that is taking place in places like, reforms are taking place in Bahrain and Jordan and Morocco. I do believe there is a momentum now to reform.
QUESTION: Is there really a chance for peace as long as Iran is governed by the mullah regime?
SECRETARY RICE: It's a very good point but Iran is increasingly out of step with the trends in the region. Those trends are to desire a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Iranians by doctrine desire the destruction of Israel and support Palestinian rejectionists and terrorists. They are out of step in terms of treatment of their own people because as reform begins to move through the Middle East, the fact that you have an un-elected few in Iran who continue to frustrate the aspirations of their own people - by the way a sophisticated people - a people who have demonstrated time and time again that they do understand the principles of democracy. Yes, Iran is increasingly out of step and that's a problem for the international system.
QUESTION: Is Iran right now the greatest threat to world peace?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't think we have to choose between multiple threats, but I would say that the internal and external behavior of the Iranian regime is certainly a problem an international system that is trying to move from the threats we have faced in recent years, from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and brutal dictatorships to a more hopeful future in which democratic values spread, in which we deal with weapons of mass destruction proliferation as a community of states. Yes, the Iranians are a problem for that, and the important thing is that I hope that they are getting a message that is unified from the international community: that their behavior is a problem and it is the nuclear issue. And we are working with the EU-3 to hope that the efforts they are making will convince the Iranians to live up to their international obligations. But it is also Iranian support for terrorism that has to be countered.
QUESTION: How would you judge Germany's role in the Middle East peace process? What can Germany do to (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RICE: Let me say in the peace process proper, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we are looking forward to Germany, first through the EU but also bilaterally, to support the efforts of the Palestinians to build institutions that would become the foundations for a state, to help with the reconstruction of the Palestinian territories once the Israelis withdraw. I've had multiple conversations with Foreign Minister Fischer who has a deep and abiding interest in this. The Chancellor today talked about his hope for progress in this area. So there's a lot that Germany can do and that we can do together.
As to Iran, I really do believe that we have unity of purpose. The Iranians need to understand that they cannot be members in good standing of the international community and flaunt and defy their international obligations at the same time. They really must deal with the fact that now most of the world is suspicious of Iranian activities that appear to be and that we believe are efforts to build nuclear weapons programs or the means to get nuclear weapons under cover of civilian nuclear power development. And it is particularly a problem because the Nonproliferation Treaty which allows states to pursue civilian nuclear power, but with the understanding that they will not somehow divert that to nuclear weapons development, that is just making a shamble of that obligation. And so I believe we have developed a unity of purpose and unity of message to the Iranians. We will continue to work with the IAEA, with the EU-3, with the Russians and with others to try to get the Iranians to finally live up to those obligations.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.
Released on February 4, 2005