German opposition wants more Europe and less Turkey
26.08.2005 - 09:53 CET | By Lucia Kubosova
The hot candidate to head Germany’s future foreign ministry says he wants a more integrated Europe and better relations with the US.
Wolfgang Schauble, foreign affairs adviser in opposition leader Angela Merkel’s pre-election team, said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune that Germany’s international agenda had not changed since the country’s reunification in 1990.
“The fundamentals are more or less the same. Germany’s interests and foreign policy are anchored on a European position and a transatlantic partnership, both going hand in hand and not in competition with each other”, Mr Schauble indicated.
He argues that current chancellor Gerhard Schroder has made several moves against these fundamental principles, referring to his role in undermining the Stability and Growth Pact - the rules underpinning the euro - and Germany’s foreign policy on the invasion of Iraq, which saw the country ally with France and Russia in a bid to oppose the US.
According to the Christian Democrat veteran “this triangular relationship involving Berlin, Paris and Moscow was a dangerous development. It was very dangerous for the small countries in Europe because they perceived it as an axis and you can understand why”.
Reservations about Turkey
Mr Schauble also disagrees with Germany’s current position on Turkey. Despite the US’ support for Ankara’s EU membership, Mr Schauble maintains the country should become the bloc’s privileged parner, rather than a full member.
“What we are concerned about is Europe’s borders and the support of Europeans for EU integration. They will not identify with a Europe that will border with Iran and Iraq. Europe will not exist if the EU’s borders will stretch to Iran and Iraq”, he said in the interview.
Apart from the security issues, Mr Schauble pointed to Turkey’s identity, suggesting “a far bigger part of both Turkey and Russia is definitely not in Europe. That is why Russia could never really integrate into the EU”.
However, he said the new cabinet would not block the kick-start of Turkey’s accession talks due on 3 October, adding “we will stick to the European Council’s decision that the results of these negotiations should be kept open. The negotiations could last for at least 10 years. Things could be very different in 10 years’ time”.
Wolfgang Schauble, in a wheelchair since he was paralysed by an assassination attempt in 1990, was the direct successor to Helmut Kohl at the head of the Christian Democrats after he lost the elections to Gerhard Schroeder in 1998.
He had previously served as Mr Kohl’s chancellery minister and interior minister.
Election date set
While the pre-election campaign in Germany has been well under way, the poll due on 18 September only got the final approval on Thursday (25 August), when the country’s highest court ruled that federal elections can go ahead as planned.
Last week’s surveys suggest the Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel still has a great chance to win and become Germany’s first woman chancellor, with a support of 43 percent against the Social Democrats on 29 percent.
The new Left party - uniting the former East German communists and Social Democrat defectors - stood at just 10 percent.