British-German Relations

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 25th March 2003.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham 11:30 am, 25th March 2003

What plans he has to meet representatives of the German Government to discuss British-German diplomatic relations.

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane Minister of State (Europe), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer last Friday at the European Council. I had good talks with him, and a brief conversation with the German Chancellor. This follows my extensive meetings with Government and Bundestag representatives in Berlin last Monday.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is extremely important that at this stage we work very closely with our German friends in putting together a new UN resolution on Iraq? I hope that we will move away from the rhetoric that has characterised much of the discussion of our European partners in the past week. We must rebuild the UN consensus, and could not our relationship with Germany be at the heart of putting forward a new UN resolution on the reconstruction of Iraq?

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane Minister of State (Europe), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

That is very much the wish in Berlin, and I hope that some of the rhetoric directed against this Government from certain of our partners and friends in Europe also dries up, because this has not been a one-way street. However, my hon. Friend is right: we must work very closely with Germany, and we welcome co-operation on ideas about a post-Saddam Iraq. We can put behind us, or leave to historians, analysis of diplomatic wranglings at the UN, and start to build a happier future for that troubled part of the world, in collaboration with Germany and other partners.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

Can the Minister make it clear to his counterpart in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Germany that the continued presence of British troops in the federal republic will be called into question in this country unless the German Government, through diplomacy and their conduct of foreign affairs, do not give encouragement, at least, to the Queen's enemies in Iraq?

Photo of Denis MacShane Denis MacShane Minister of State (Europe), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

That is not worthy of the hon. Gentleman. German military facilities are at the full disposition of the coalition and Germany military units are in the Gulf to help, in case of attack with chemical and biological weapons.

I do not greatly object to the anti-militarist feeling that animates people of all political persuasions in Germany. I would have liked to see a different diplomatic course from the German Government in the last few months, but what they did was a response to promises made at elections by all parties, and I will have no truck with any anti-German feeling or with remarks about our troops being anything other than fully welcome in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Photo of Mr George Stevenson Mr George Stevenson Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South

In the important discussions on diplomatic relations between my hon. Friend and our German counterparts, will the emphasis be on our Atlanticism or our Europeanism?