At the side of the Yemeni people
Foreign Minister Westerwelle with President Hadi
© Photothek / Grabowsky
Arriving in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called his visit to the country a “sign of our support for the fresh start in Yemeni politics”. He pointed out that Germany had traditionally had close ties with Yemen and had been working with the country for many years. Yemen is currently faced with huge challenges.
On 10 March 2012, Foreign Minister Westerwelle met Yemen’s new President and Foreign Minister, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, in Sana’a. He also spoke to members of Yemen’s democracy movement and other representatives of civil society. “We are at the side of the Yemeni people as they move towards stability and democracy,” Westerwelle pledged. He underlined the fact that this would serve not only Yemen’s own interest but also stability throughout the region.
Westerwelle gave his assurances that support for Yemen would be “expressed not only in words but also in deeds”. This, he said, meant considerable financial commitments. Alongside the United Kingdom and the Gulf States, Germany is one of Yemen’s main financial donors. In the words of the Federal Foreign Minister, “we want to continue that work”.
Next to the volatile political situation, the security situation is also confronting the Yemeni Government with major challenges. The country is under threat from civil conflict and the activities of al-Qaida and related terrorist groups. Moreover, the political crisis has exacerbated the already very tense economic conditions. Unemployment is well over 40 percent, and half of the population are subsisting below the breadline, on less than 2 US dollars a day.
Political transformation in Yemen
Meeting representatives of Yemeni civil society
© photothek / Grabowsky
“What has been achieved in Yemen, namely a peaceful political changeover – with all the compromise that must always entail – is absolutely something that can be recommended to other countries,” Westerwelle emphasized, drawing a parallel to the crisis in Syria. “If a peaceful transformation could be brought about in Syria in the same way, it would certainly be a good thing for the people who are currently suffering so much,” he said.
Following protracted protests and under considerable international pressure, Yemen’s former President Saleh signed a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative on an orderly transfer of power on 23 November 2011. Early presidential elections were held on 21 February 2012 and won by former Vice President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The parliament had reached a consensus to put him forward as the only candidate.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister al-Qirbi highlighted the Yemeni Government’s reliance on its German friends, especially when it came to the three big challenges facing the country: the difficulties of the political, economic and security situations. Together with Germany, he said, Yemen wanted change for the better. He pledged that, to achieve it, his Government would work responsibly in collaboration with all the forces active in Yemen.
For the second stage of the transition process, a national dialogue is now to be launched to draw up a new constitution. Once it has been adopted by referendum, parliamentary and presidential elections are to be held within two years.
Continuing support from Germany
Westerwelle and al-Qirbi
© photothek / Grabowsky
Westerwelle commended Yemen’s progress to the stage of national reconciliation, constitutional reform and reform of the security forces. The German Government seeks to support that national dialogue. The German Embassy resumed its functions on 31 January 2012, and development cooperation involving German staff in Yemen is now to be restarted as well.
In the sphere of development cooperation, Germany has been active in Yemen for more than 40 years. During 2011, development cooperation was only possible on a very limited scale, as German staff were withdrawn in view of the security situation. Nonetheless, even in 2011, 23 million euro in food aid did reach the country. Next to conventional development cooperation, Germany also assists Yemen with clearing mines and combating terrorism.
Following his visit to Sana’a, Foreign Minister Westerwelle travelled on to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. On 11 March, he held talks there with a number of people including the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister and the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Last updated 10.03.2012