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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2005 Secretary Rice's Remarks > December 2005: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Interview With Anne Will of German TV One (ARD)

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Berlin, Germany
December 6, 2005

QUESTION:  Madame Secretary, you've just met with Chancellor Merkel.  What impression do you have of her in her new role?

 

SECRETARY RICE:  Yes.  Well, I had met her before and I knew her at that time to be a highly intelligent woman and it was a great meeting today.  She is so committed.  She's so committed to Germany.  She's so committed to a Europe that is whole and free and at peace.  And I found her just exceptionally a great interlocutor on all the issues.  We talked about the Middle East.  We talked about the future of Russia and Ukraine.  And we talked about the importance of Afghanistan where Germany, of course, has been really one of the lead countries.  And so she's a wonderful interlocutor, just very dedicated to liberty and freedom.

 

QUESTION:  How can the German Government be successful in improving German-American relations?  With, on the one hand, the Chancellor, who tends to be pro-American, of course, and on the other hand, a Foreign Minister, who was involved in tailoring the previous government’s foreign policy, who wasn't exactly pro-American. 

 

SECRETARY RICE:  Yes.  Well, the Chancellor said something very important.  She said it in the press conference as well.  She said, our policy will derive from German interests.  And I think that she sees German interest as having also at their root a good, strong relationship with the United States. 

 

We, and Germany, have been through so much together.  As I sit here in Berlin, now an undivided city, once the symbol of the Cold War, once the symbol of the division of Europe, I recognize that without German-American friendship, we wouldn't be sitting in an undivided Berlin.  And on the basis of that history and on the basis of our common values, we can go ahead to do so much in the Middle East and the -- with the new democracies that are emerging in Afghanistan and Iraq.  And I found, too, my conversations with the Foreign Minister to be very similar, that whatever differences there were in the past and there were differences, we can acknowledge there were differences, but they never, ever obscured the fact that Germany and the United States are friends and Germany and the United States share values. 

 

And so we have now a firm foundation on which to move forward with the many challenges that we face in these quite historic times.

 

QUESTION:  The press (inaudible) governments, one that is currently overshadowed in a way. In the eyes of many German people the U.S. has a -- has an image problem:  Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, now the renditions, as you called them, the secret CIA flights and the alleged secret CIA prisons.  What would you say to those people?

 

SECRETARY RICE:  Yes.  Well, I would hope to remind everyone that we are partners together in this very difficult war on terror, a war in which the terrorists live among us and which they clearly are determined to kill innocent civilians.  Now, that was a wedding party in Amman.  It was a railway stop, a traffic stop in London and in Madrid.  They go to hotels and blow up innocent people. 

 

So we're dealing with a different kind of war but we are also both nations of laws.  We believe in the rule of law.  And what I assured my European colleagues in my answer to Foreign Secretary Straw is that the United States intends and will fully live up to obligations under our international commitments as well as obligations under U.S. law.  We don't condone torture.  We are determined to do everything that we can to protect our citizens but within a lawful framework.

 

I also would note that when something goes wrong as it did in Abu Ghraib, this were sights that sickened every American because that isn't what American men and women in uniform do or want to be remembered for.  They are putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan and in Iraq to try to bring freedom to people.  And so when Abu Ghraib happened, we denounced it.  We punished people who were involved in it.  There were long prison sentences handed out to people.  And that's the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship. 

 

And so when these difficult issues come up, I would hope that we all go back to the fact that we share common values in our struggle.  We are always willing to engage in the discussion and debate within democratic societies.  It's only healthy that we do. 

 

QUESTION:  Would you say that the war on terrorism can't be fought fully lawfully, morally and ethnically? 

 

SECRETARY RICE:  Well, I think the war on terrorism has to be fought lawfully.  And if it's not, then we're not a country of laws and that is no place to be.  The terrorists have no regard for innocent life.  The terrorists live in a lawless and law-free society.  They live in a world that crosses these boundaries in shadowy ways.  They're stateless in a sense.  We don't want to mimic them or to become like them.  That's why the President has insisted that even though they are unlawful combatants, we will treat them consistent with the obligations that we have under our international obligations like the Geneva Convention.  There are military necessities, but we are going to be a country of laws.  And the President has been determined about that.  I've sat in with him many times when he talks about this and that is something of which our partners can be assured. 

 

QUESTION:  What we want to know is what did the German Government know about the renditions?  

 

SECRETARY RICE:  Well, Chancellor Merkel today said in the press conference and told me that they intend to look at any specific cases within the framework of the Bundestag.  She believes that there is a committee that appropriately can look at this, can protect intelligence information and yet can give the kind of transparency that is needed in these cases and we respect that decision.  It's the U.S. view that rendition is a legal practice, that it is a practice that has taken terrorists off the streets.  It was used before September 11th and it's been used after September 11th.  It was used, for instance, to get Carlos the Jackal, the very -- the infamous terrorist who was rendered to France.  So all of this needs to be done within the context of law. 

 

We also (inaudible) within the context of law, we are fighting an enemy that is ruthless, that if we don't use intelligence before the fact, if we don't get intelligence, we can't stop an attack.  And we can do everything that we want to try to harden our airports and to try to harden our ports and to use law enforcement, but the sad fact is that the terrorists have the upper hand and that we have to be right 100 percent of the time.  They only have to be right once.  In order to stop them, we need good intelligence, we need good intelligence cooperation and I am certain that as countries of laws, that believe in the law, that believe in our international obligations, that we can win this war on terrorism within this lawful framework. 

 

QUESTION:  But you didn't say what the German Government know about this? 

 

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the German Government is going to look into this matter on its own.  I've been very clear that we respect the sovereignty of our partners.  But I will leave it, as is the case with any democratic government, to determine how it addresses its public while protecting the -- protecting intelligence operations. 

 

QUESTION:  Madame Secretary, thank you so much. 

 

SECRETARY RICE:  Thank you very much.

2005/T20-3



Released on December 6, 2005

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