Federal Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Washington -
Unfazed on delicate topics

From: "Saarbrücker Zeitung"
November 4, 1998

Serious yet casual

- by PETER RZEZNITZECK, Washington -

"100 day period of grace? Forget it!" Joschka Fischer has a tired smile for such old customs. "We have already had to decide upon foreign matters of state even before we came into office," recalls the German Secretary of State and refers, over a glass of water in the residence of the German Ambassador in Washington, to the latest Kosovo conflict. Having to jump off the deep end does not appear to have harmed the new chief of foreign affairs. Quite the opposite: assuming his new role in record time, he projects an air of statesmanship. He expounds coolly upon the Balkan and Iraqi crises. When his ministerial seriousness no longer serves him, he still manages to easily keep up the pace. "I was supposed to announce the global economic plan - that could still happen," jokes the 50-year-old on the theme of control of the financial markets. He also keeps calm in matters of Scientology. "As a representative I disapproved of them, nothing has changed," said the Vice Chancellor. That is how the "new guy" spent the evening with 100 reporters. After barely two hours he said more about himself and his politics than his predecessor would have in the same context. Fischer, the calm novice minister - Fischer, the smart tactician.

The last time he was in the US capitol with Gerhard Schröder, anything he said had to be off the record. Barely in office a week, Fischer asks for understanding that not all positions of the new administration can be discussed and reformulated. "Really, I have to rest on the seventh day. . .", jokes the Minister and alludes to the various necessary closed conferences. Example: NATO expansion and Russia. In his predisposition for foreign words, Fisher calls it "koordinatives Stadium," the "coordination phase," which, in so many words, means: we don't have a strategy because of a lack of discussion and agreement. Nevertheless, two things appear to have taken place with the new minister: nothing will change in the fundamentals of German foreign politics. And if sensitive military operations are taking place such as in Kosovo or in Iraq, Bonn will be able to rely upon the decision of the security council. Fischer was asked as to how the German administration would react to unilateral American military action. However he would not respond at all to hypothetical questions. He will cross those bridges when he gets to them.

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