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Focus on German Unification (January 30, 1991)

Against the backdrop of the Iraq war of 1990-91, Chancellor Helmut Kohl assures the Western alliance partners of German solidarity before moving on to his real subject, German unification. Kohl explains that he aims to provide all Germans with equal opportunities.

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Madam President, esteemed ladies and gentlemen,

This policy statement comes at a time when many people around the world are very concerned: because of the Gulf War, but also because of the events in the Baltics. Who could possibly understand these concerns better than we Germans, we who – on account of the Nazi dictatorship – had to experience the horror and suffering of war first hand?

Given this historical backdrop, we are all the more grateful that we were able to win common freedom for all Germans last year. This imparts special responsibilities on us. The past years were a time of hope and great optimism. Long-cherished dreams came true for us, and our attention is directed above all to the opportunities that these changes promise to bring to our continent and to other parts of the world.

In shaping the future, we want to make responsible use our common freedom. This means thinking of the well-being of not only just our own people. For freedom and responsibility are inextricably linked: this holds true in the life of every individual and in all state actions as well.

In view of current political developments worldwide, it would be a fateful error to close our eyes to new threats to peace and freedom. Resignation and an evasion of responsibility would be just as dangerous, however. The military confrontation in the Persian Gulf is now entering its third week. At virtually no other point in time has the international community undertaken such diplomatic efforts to avoid an armed conflict. They all failed due to Iraq’s categorical refusal to comply with the resolutions of the U.N. – that is, with the will of the international community – and reverse the violent annexation of Kuwait. Iraqi president Saddam Hussein alone is responsible for this war, which he started on August 2, 1990, with his brutal invasion of Kuwait. It is within his power to end it immediately. He must withdraw from Kuwait immediately and completely. So far, there have been no signs that Saddam Hussein is prepared to relent. Quite the contrary: the barbaric parading before the media of allied prisoners of war who had obviously been abused, the call for global acts of terror, the intentional contamination of the Gulf with an oil slick, and the most recent threat to deploy nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are all clear indicators of an intention to escalate this war. At the same time, he is trying to extend the war to bystanders. The Iraqi missile attacks on Israel have only one goal: to use any means possible to draw Israel into the military conflict in the Gulf. This is an attack on Israel’s integrity and its right to exist.

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