The Only Problem Left Is Chirac

Jacques Chirac

Unless something totally unexpected happens, a US invasion of Iran for instance, there is little doubt that the Christian-Democrat CDU will win the German general elections next September and CDU leader Angela Merkel will succeed Socialist leader Gerhard Schröder as Chancellor. Both Schröder and his Foreign Minister, the Green politician Joschka Fischer, will now have time to devote to their wives (spouse 4 for Schröder and 5 for Fischer).

It is not yet clear who will succeed Fischer, but Wolfgang Schäuble, a former minister of the Interior under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, is a strong contender. Schäuble is the foreign expert of the Christian-Democrats. The politician, who has been confined to a wheelchair since an assassination attempt, was interviewed by the Flemish newspaper De Tijd last Saturday. “A CDU government will restore what went wrong under Schröder,” he said, adding that the European Union’s biggest problem at the moment is the French President Jacques Chirac. “European unification cannot be an alternative for cooperation within NATO and the transatlantic relations. Europe is still divided, as we have seen at the EU-summit in Brussels this June, along the lines that divided it during the crisis over Iraq. This cannot continue. We will tell our French friends: do not force us to choose.”

Schäuble also shelved Fischer’s pet ambition: a permanent seat for Berlin in the Security Council of the United Nations. “It is nonsense to demand such a thing,” Schäuble said. “Enough damage has already been done. It seems more useful to me to improve the position in the Security Council of all the states that are not members. We had also better attempt to agree on more common European positions in the UN. Then it does not matter whether these are conveyed by the French, British or any other ambassador. The preliminary condition is that Europe again unites in its transatlantic relations. As soon as Germany reassumes its proper role here, the only problem left is Chirac.”