Schroeder says NATO, US ties need renewal

16th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 February 2005, BRUSSELS - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is standing by his comments on the need to revive NATO and the trans-atlantic alliance, saying his proposals had strong public support. The Chancellor, on a rare visit to European Commission headquarters this week, also vowed an "honest effort" to secure long-sought agreement on reforming the eurozone stability pact and reaching consensus on a new financial blueprint for the European Union. The German leader said he had no regrets about makin

16 February 2005

BRUSSELS - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is standing by his comments on the need to revive NATO and the trans-atlantic alliance, saying his proposals had strong public support.

The Chancellor, on a rare visit to European Commission headquarters this week, also vowed an "honest effort" to secure long-sought agreement on reforming the eurozone stability pact and reaching consensus on a new financial blueprint for the European Union.

The German leader said he had no regrets about making comments over the weekend on the need to renew NATO and transatlantic ties.

"I stand by what I said," Schroeder told reporters after talks with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels.

"I really believe that to contribute to a strengthening of NATO and the transatlantic alliance we must speak openly on political relations," Schroeder said.

The German leader said he was convinced that NATO and European Union institutions wanted the transatlantic dialogue to develop further and be based on a "solid foundation."

In order to have a stronger say in decision-making, "you want to be heard," he said.

Schroeder said he had "no reason to be unhappy" with the public response to his comments but added that he understood that some other people had a "different view."

US and NATO officials - as well as members of Germany's conservative opposition - have criticised Schroeder's address to an international conference in Munich over the weekend in which he said NATO was "no longer the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies".

The speech was read out by Defence Minister Peter Struck because Schroeder was too ill to attend the meeting.

The Chancellor also said he wanted to set up a panel of senior politicians to look at ways of revitalising transatlantic relations.

Schroeder is expected to discuss his proposals with US President George W. Bush who will be in Brussels on 22 February.

Separately, the German leader backed Barroso's calls for an EU focus on jobs and prosperity and said he wanted eurozone fiscal rules to be interpreted in a way which promoted growth.

Germany, which is in breach of the eurozone stability pact, has long argued for more flexibility in applying the rules. The issue is set to be discussed by EU finance ministers later this week.

Berlin as the largest contributor to the EU budget is also under pressure to drop its calls for austerity and agree to a more generous EU financial blueprint for 2007-2013.

Schroeder pointed to still "substantial differences" among EU states on the issue but promised to make an "honest effort" to secure a deal.

While it was necessary to liberalise services in the EU, the Chancellor insisted that some sectors - health, local services and construction - must be protected against so-called "wage dumping."

DPA

Subject: German news

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