Mr. Schröder’s Long To-Do List
Our best quotes from German Chancellor Gerhard Shröder on his country’s future.
July 14, 2003
There is trouble waiting for German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder — both at home and abroad. In Germany, he is pushing his "2010 Agenda" reform package in order to salvage the country's economic and social situation. Abroad, he must try to revive U.S.-German relations which have gone sour over the Iraq war. Our Read My Lips feature examines Mr. Schröder's plans.
How urgently does Germany need reforms?
“If we don’t get on with it, we will witness the reform process bypassing us to the disadvantage of our people.”
What do you aim for in your "Agenda 2010" reform package?
“The right approach to retaining the substance of the social security system under radically changed international economic conditions.”
Are you prepared to put your job on the line for reforms?
“Major changes to the Agenda 2010 program would remove the basis of my work — and force me to draw certain conclusions.”
What do you say to your very outspoken critics?
“Mind your language.”
How would you characterize their position?
“Lots of puff in their cheeks — but no sense in their heads.”
What do you hope to achieve with your proposed income tax reductions?
“We want a signal of revival to go out to the people in our country.”
Why does Iraq continue to worry you?
“The war in Iraq has increased the economic uncertainties worldwide. And some of the hopes for economic growth have been impaired — if not entirely destroyed.”
Why did you have second thoughts on supporting the United States in Iraq?
“We Germans know from our own experience that dictators sometimes can only be stopped with force. We also know what bombing, destruction and the loss of one’s home mean for people.”
Is it important to you to repair U.S.-German relations?
“When you have had your differences, you always need to work on a relationship. That is in the interest of both nations — regardless of the personal relationship of the people involved.”
Will German foreign policy increasingly be directed towards France rather than the United States?
“Nobody should try to force Germany into the senseless choice of choosing between its friendship with France and its friendship with the United States.”
How do you propose to work on that relationship?
"It's like in personal relationships. Emancipation rightly understood doesn't mean emancipating against a partner, but rather for yourself — and therefore also for the partner."
Would you be prepared to get in touch with U.S. President George W. Bush?
“I don’t see any problems in maintaining contact with the U.S. President — which is necessary and desirable.”
What makes the EU so remarkable for you?
“Our ancestors could only dream of building a united Europe. This is now reality.”
Do you have confidence in the governors of the European Central Bank?
“I assume the intelligent people in the leadership of the ECB discuss the question every day of whether they have done enough in the context of the dollar-euro exchange rate to maintain the competitiveness of exports from Europe.”
How do you plan to strengthen NATO?
“There is too little Europe. The target of the process of emancipation is: More Europe.”
Does Germany have a special role to play on the global stage when war is in the air?
“Germany’s owes it to its history to point out alternatives.”
And finally, what is your view on a unipolar world?
“We really all agree that we want to have only one “pole” in world politics: The pole of freedom, peace and justice.”