The Transatlantic Relationship and the New Global Agenda

January 23, 2002 // 11:00pm

Summary of remarks by His Excellency Wolfgang Ischinger, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States

German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger said that working to combat international terrorism now tops the German-U.S. bilateral agenda. Prior to September 11, he said, other topics dominated the agenda—from Germany's opposition to the death penalty to America's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, from missile defense to trade—all of which still need to be addressed. In addition, new global issues have emerged since September 11, concerning such questions as the subsequent steps in the war on terrorism and the treatment of detainees.

Ischinger underscored that the transatlantic relationship is stronger than ever, imbued with "a renewed sense of common vision and purpose." Germany, he said, regarded the attacks as if they had occurred on their own soil. Politically and emotionally linked, Germany and United States share common values and that is why, he said, Germany and Europe in general are America's closest allies.

Ischinger said that Germany views its involvement in the war on terrorism as an obligation, to assume its share of the responsibility for regional and global stability. He added that the German government felt morally obligated to fight a war on the right side.

Praising the United States for its role in building NATO, the United Nations, and international financial institutions, Ischinger emphasized that the United States must stay engaged with its allies and continue to act multilaterally and in accordance with international law. He said that in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United States had properly used "multilateral instruments, institutions, and treaties as ways to promote [its] own interests and as ways to make the world safer, more transparent, and more predictable." Ischinger urged the United States to continue this multilateral strategy and remember that the world will look to the United States to lead by good example.

He asked the United States to trust Germany and show patience. "We are not moving away from you," he said. In fact, Europe is becoming a stronger, more unified ally, he said, citing as an example the euro—the common currency linking and uniting much of Europe, enhancing global trade and potentially paving the way for European enlargement and constitutional reform. He also pointed to NATO as remaining an essential institution, adding that Germany supports its expansion.

Ischinger cautioned the developed world, "We can't let states fail, or failed states will stop us from living in peace and stability."

Event Speakers List: 
  • Wolfgang Ischinger // Distinguished Scholar
    Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany; Former German Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2006 to May 2008 and to the United States from 2001 to 2006.
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    Experts & Staff

    • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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