Comprehensive approach key to success of peace-building, Annan tells Bundestag
The first UN Secretary-General to address the Bundestag and only the fourth non-German to do so, Mr. Annan said the German people could well appreciate the importance of sustainable peace. “You Germans, who rebuilt your own country so magnificently after the Second World War, with the help of your friends and allies, are perhaps better placed than any other people to understand what I mean.”
Rebuilding a war-shattered country “is a very complex process, combining many different tasks – success or failure in each of which has an inescapable impact on the others,” Mr. Annan told a regular session of the Bundestag in Berlin. “It is a long and delicate process in which there are no quick fixes,” he emphasized.
Stressing the importance of staying engaged for the long haul, Mr. Annan noted that Afghanistan was now at the center of world attention after “a long and shameful period of neglect.” He added that peacekeepers should leave as soon as possible, but should never be withdrawn abruptly or prematurely, and in that connection expressed hope that the present International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) “can be extended beyond its present mandate.”
Issues related to the Force came up later during Mr. Annan’s meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, after which the Chancellor told reporters that his country would not assume the leadership role of the ISAF from the United Kingdom, but added that Germany would not reduce its military presence there either. The Secretary-General, during a separate press encounter, said German officials had explained their reasons for the decision not to lead ISAF, adding “I would have welcomed it if it were possible.”
According to a UN spokesman, Mr. Annan’s discussions with the Chancellor also focused on the Balkan issues, including the breakthrough on Kosovo’s presidency earlier today, the Middle East and next month’s International Conference on Financing for Development in Mexico. In addition, they touched on NATO and expansion of the European Union.