Germany supports the Syrian opposition in its efforts to bring about a democratic change in the country said the country’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle in an interview to Al Arabiya net on Wednesday.
Westerwelle, who was speaking after his meeting with president of the Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun, believes the Council will bring the different opposition movements closer together.
“That is why we are systematically expanding our ties with the National Council and are supporting its efforts to build a democratic, peaceful, secular Syrian state that respects pluralism.”
Westerwelle also called upon President Bashar al-Assad to pave the way for democracy while urging him to show restraint on protestors demanding an end to his regime.
“Until now, the European Union has agreed to impose nine sets of sanctions against the Syrian regime in a bid to put an end to the bloody oppression in Syria. Moreover the intensified Arab pressure on Assad’s regime will eventually have strong repercussions on events and push our ongoing efforts in the United Nations forward,” the minister said.
“The German ambassador to Syria is currently present in Berlin to discuss the Syrian case and I believe that it is urgent to send international observers to Syria,” he said, adding that the regime should allow a fact finding committee from the U.N. Human Rights Council into the country.
He said Germany would continue to increase its political and diplomatic pressure on Assad’s regime on all international forums but said Syria’s neighbor Turkey “shall have a pivotal role to play.”
He stressed that any military option “is off the table right now for many legal reasons.”
Iraq and “the hard road”
Concerning Iraq, Westerwelle said that “the country is on a tough road towards democracy despite the progress it has achieved. The Iraqi people must stay on the right track which leads to reconstruction and reconciliation despite recurring acts of terrorism.
“Undoubtedly this requires greater efforts and more endurance as well as international commitments. In 2003, Germany donated around 400 million euros to implement several projects in Iraq. We also wrote off 4.7 billion euros in debt to Iraq and provided assistance to cover the reintegration of refugees and training diplomatic officials and judges,” he said.
When commenting on Iranian influence in Iraq, Westerwelle said that “Iraq is coming to terms with a new democracy in a strategically sensitive environment. Its neighboring nations should acknowledge Iraq as a democratic and prosper state where stability is guaranteed. I look to Iraq’s neighbors for support and I am confident that they will support the country on its path to democracy.”
(This article was translated by Stanella Khalil.)