German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told parliament that Germany must re-examine its role in the world following last month's terrorist attacks in the United States.
Reporting on his visit to the United States this week, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told lawmakers a united Germany has new responsibilities in international politics and can no longer leave the defense of democracy to others.
Mr. Schroeder told the Bundestag that Germany is obligated to assume responsibility because it is an important European and transatlantic partner, and because it is a strong democracy and economy in the heart of Europe.
Things have changed irrevocably, Mr. Schroeder said, from the situation after the end of the Cold War when the world expected Germany to play only a secondary role in international efforts to maintain freedom, justice, and stability.
The chancellor said Germany must do more than provide infrastructure and finance. Its new responsibilities must include a readiness to take part in military action to defend freedom, human rights, stability, and security.
Mr. Schroeder said Germany had managed to recover from the effects of World War Two and find its way to freedom and self-determination through the help and solidarity of its American and European allies. He said now Germany has a duty to live up to its new responsibilities by declaring its unlimited solidarity with the United States in the war against terrorism.
Many analysts said the chancellor's speech was aimed at silencing mostly left-wing critics of German participation in international action.
Germany is not expected to take part directly in the military campaign in Afghanistan. But it has agreed to send soldiers and AWACS surveillance aircraft as part of a NATO effort to protect U.S. airspace, and will be sending ships and troops with a NATO unit replacing U.S. patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean.