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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 13:59 GMT
Germany warns US against unilateralism
Joschka Fischer  (right) with UK's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Fischer (right) has strong words on the "axis of evil"
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has become the latest in a series of senior Europeans to warn the US against unilateral action in the war on terror.

The international coalition against terror does not provide a basis for doing just anything against anybody - and certainly not by going it alone

Joschka Fischer
"Without compelling evidence, it will not be a good idea to launch something that will mean going it alone," Mr Fischer told the Die Welt newspaper.

"The international coalition against terror does not provide a basis for doing just anything against anybody - and certainly not by going it alone. This is the view of every European foreign minister."

President Bush delivers State of the Union speech
President Bush's speech has caused a backlash at home and abroad
His comments come a day after Russian President Vladimir warned the US against launching an attack on Iraq, one of the country's labelled by President Bush as forming an "axis of evil".

Mr Fischer said that a peaceful future could not be guaranteed by the world's greatest power acting alone.

"I utterly reject anti-Americanism. But, for all the differences in size and weight, alliance partnerships between free democracies cannot be reduced to obedience," he said.

"Alliance partners are not satellites."

Throwing Iran, North Korea and Iraq into one pot - where should that lead us?

Joschka Fischer
Mr Fischer criticised President Bush's decision to lump Iran, North Korea and Iraq together under the "axis of evil" label, saying it did not "take us further".

The coalition against terror began with solid support from across Europe, from the EU to Russia.

For weeks no-one broke ranks, but as talk grew of widening the war beyond Afghanistan, concerns started to emerge.

Criticism of US policy has come from several key figures:

  • President Putin said any use of force by the US against Iraq "should be justified" and have the backing of the international community
  • French Foreign Affairs Minister Hubert Vedrine accused Washington of a "simplistic" approach to foreign affairs
  • French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin called on the US not to resort to unilateralism or become fixated with the war against terrorism
  • EU external affairs commissioner Chris Patten said European governments should speak up before the US went into "unilateralist overdrive"
  • Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Mr Bush's "axis of evil" comments "a big mistake".
Mr Fischer said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was playing "a brutal, cynical game" with his population, but said non-military options should be considered.

And he said "frank" discussions were needed with the US on the future of global security.

"If large-scale rearmament is now signalled, this will not lead to a reduction in potential acts of desperation throughout the world," he told the paper.

"What we need is a new concept of security, particularly an equitable shaping of globalisation.

"A dollar or euro can only be spent once. The money will be missed elsewhere in the world, and this will increase the potential for acts of desperation, and hence the threats to security," he said.

See also:

11 Feb 02 | Europe
Putin warns US on Iraq
08 Feb 02 | Europe
EU denies rift with US
08 Feb 02 | Europe
France steps up US criticism
06 Feb 02 | Americas
Powell steps up Iraq war talk
06 Feb 02 | Americas
Analysis: The 'axis of evil' debate
31 Jan 02 | Middle East
France pushes for Mid-East peace
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