FOREIGN MINISTER KINKEL: Yes, we talked about Scientology.

01 Apr 2001


QUESTION: In your introductory remarks, you did not mention Scientology. You probably do not want to play this up, but nevertheless, I would like to ask the question whether you raised that issue, and do you think that this might still become a burden on relations between both countries?

FOREIGN MINISTER KINKEL: Yes, we talked about Scientology. In an interview with a newspaper a couple of days ago, I said something that I intend to repeat now. I said that the American side, due to the fact that they have their constitution, sees some of the things somewhat differently from the way in which the German side sees some of the things. But, this is not an issue that plays a decisive part in bilateral relations between our countries, or could negatively affect relations between our countries. This is not the case. I said we have a partnership, we have friendly relations, and there are sometimes questions where we do not agree. It would be very peculiar if that were not the case. So we should play it down. The issue of Scientology should be played down, especially as far as bilateral relations are concerned. Do not take this to be a burden between us.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, we did discuss it as the Foreign Minister has expressed, and clearly it is a subject that needs to be worked out in bilateral relations. But, I must say, any discussion which draws comparisons between what happened under Nazism and what is happening now are historically inaccurate and totally distasteful.

FOREIGN MINISTER KINKEL: Thank you, that is important for us.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I think the comparison really is to the early days of Nazism, when Jews and other groups were identified. Germany is making an effort now to single out and identify Scientologists. The comparison to the Holocaust may not be germane, but the identification and separateness of some people may be germane to the discussion. How do you feel about that? And, Mr. Foreign Minister, are you still pushing and supporting the French idea of a "quint" summit when you say there should be some discussions before Madrid. Or, is it enough, as the Secretary feels, to talk to Yeltsin, to have a meeting in Denver, etc., etc.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just briefly answer. I think the issue here is one that can be resolved amicably and bilaterally between the U.S. and Germany, and comparisons that exacerbate the situation are not useful.

FOREIGN MINISTER KINKEL: Yes. Perhaps just one final remark, if I may. Well, I do not know you, so I do not know where you come from, but, I want to make it very clear that we have religious freedom in Germany. Scientology and its members are not being persecuted, in no way whatsoever. Scientology has to abide by the German laws and regulations. This is what we expect of anyone who lives here, who works here. You know that we have a judgment by a court of labor that has made it very clear that we perceive Scientology not to be a religious organization, but a profit-making organization. But this is not persecution. These people are free, Scientologists are free. And we are not willing to accept this comparison. Again, as I said, don't exacerbate the situation.

The second question that you asked: I think we have to do everything we can in order to make it easier for the Russian president, and the Russian people, to accept NATO enlargement, NATO expansion. This is why we ought to talk about everything. I will repeat what I said in that interview. We should think about everything that might prove helpful as far as this issue is concerned. I share the view of my colleague, that we have to make it a substantial charter. Everything ought to be put into that charter, and I am quite convinced that we will be able to do so. I will raise that issue with Mr. Primakov tomorrow, and other people in Moscow, as will Madam Albright two days from now. I think we should sit back, think about what we can do. We should coordinate our actions very closely, as we have done so far on this matter. I do not think that we differ whatsoever on this issue.

Thank you for having come.


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