Germany has ‘duty’ to aid hurricane victims: Schroeder
2 September 2005
BERLIN – Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Friday that Germany had “an historic duty” to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina on the southern U.S. Gulf Coast.
Schroeder told a hastily arranged news conference he has offered to send medical evacuation jets to the U.S. and to airlift field hospitals, water purification systems, vaccines and portable shelters to the disaster area.
“It is our historic duty not just because of help we got from the U.S. after the war …,” said the Chancellor.
Schroeder also announced he would allow part of Germany’s strategic oil reserves to be released to the market to make up for lost production in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The precondition is that there is a disruption of oil supply worldwide,” said Schroeder, adding that this could be triggered by events in one country.
Schroeder said Germany would join a coordinated move releasing strategic oil reserves called for by the U.S. via the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA, an energy policy adviser with 26 member states, was set up during the 1973 oil crisis to coordinate measures in times of oil supply emergencies.
Schroeder did not say how much of the oil he planned to release and expressed hope that the move would ease soaring petrol prices.
The decision was an abrupt reversal of a government statement earlier Friday in which Berlin said it was unwilling to release reserves.
Schroeder spokesman Bela Anda said the federal government has 10.2 million tons of emergency crude oil and that oil companies in Germany are mandated by law to hold an additional 13.4 million tons of crude oil and 11.8 million tons of petroleum products.
Conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel, who polls predict will win Germany’s September 18 general election, said Thursday she would consider releasing the country’s strategic oil reserves.
“This should not be a taboo in Germany,” said Merkel after the U.S. announced it was releasing part of its strategic oil reserves.
Responding to members of his government and the opposition who have debated over whether global warming is to blame for the hurricane disaster, Schroeder said: “Now is not the time to talk about the causes of such catastrophes. Now is the time to help.”
The chancellor said it was not yet clear what aid the U.S. needed and stressed that Germany would cover the cost for any assistance sent to America.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was due to meet later Friday with the new U.S. ambassador to Germany, William Timken.
The German embassy in Washington is in contact with the U.S. State Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about possible aid, said Fischer.
There appear not be any German dead or injured from the hurricane, said a foreign ministry spokesman.
DPA with Expatica
Subject: German news