Consultations on Syria and the fight against terrorism
Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited Turkey once more on 6 and 7 June. The first item on his schedule in Istanbul was a meeting of the representatives of the 15 member states of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People. Together with colleagues from the US, the EU as well as the Middle East, Westerwelle discussed how the international community should proceed in the light of the escalating situation in the country. Furthermore, Westerwelle took part in the Global Counterterrorism Forum on 7 June.
During their consultations on Syria, Westerwelle and his colleagues expressed their deep concern about the attacks on civilians, the constant breaches of Kofi Annan’s peace plan and the danger of the crisis spreading to the rest of the region.
Stepping up the pressure on Syria – involving Russia
Consultations on Syria
© photothek / Köhler
The international community’s range of options were discussed in depth. Minister Westerwelle emphasized that the political pressure on Assad would have to be stepped up further. The right point in time would have to be found to reach agreement on a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The task now was to “lend new force” to the implementation of Kofi Annan’s peace plan with non-military measures. The Annan plan was, he said, still “the best basis” for further action.
He went on to say that it was important to involve Russia – even though Russia had taken a stance which was not shared. Westerwelle reaffirmed that Russia was needed to resolve the crisis. “Assad’s regime must recognize that no-one is willing to condone these atrocities,” Westerwelle stated.
Series of key events
The Minister said that the close coordination would have to be continued in the coming days and weeks. Furthermore, there was a series of key events ahead: on 7 June, Kofi Annan will address the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. The G20 summit will take place in Los Cabos in mid-June. The Friends of the Syrian People is planning to meet in Paris in early July, while the 90-day mandate of UNSMIS, the UN observer mission in Syria, will expire in mid-July.
Meanwhile, the German Government has stepped up its support for people in need in Syria. “We will do whatever we can to also provide humanitarian assistance,” Westerwelle said in Istanbul. In view of the ongoing violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the funds for humanitarian assistance for Syria have been increased by 2.1 million euros to around eight million euros.
The meeting in Istanbul, hosted by Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, was attended by 15 states: Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, US, United Arab Emirates, as well as the EU. With the exception of Spain and Kuwait, all countries were represented by their Foreign Ministers.
Global Counterterrorism Forum
Westerwelle at the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Istanbul
© Th. Koehler, photothek / Auswärtiges Amt
Furthermore, Westerwelle took part in the second ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum on 7 June. Under the chair of Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the participants discussed how terrorism can be better combated.
Westerwelle expressed Germany’s support for the Forum’s two priorities: strengthening rule-of-law institutions and combating violent extremism. In 2012, Germany has made available funds to the tune of around 13.4 million euros for projects aimed at strengthening the rule of law. Westerwelle stated that effective counterterrorism and respect for the rule of law were mutually reinforcing goals. “Strategies and measures on counterterrorism must therefore always be based on respect for human rights and the rule-of-law principle,” Westerwelle went on to say.
The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) was founded in New York in September 2011. The GCTF currently has 27 members, including key emerging economies and states in the Islamic world, such as China, India, Pakistan and Egypt. The Forum’s main aim is to exchange best practices and to coordinate capacity-building in the counterterrorism sphere. The US and Turkey are currently co-chairs. The GCTF’s strategic steering body is the Coordination Committee, and there are five working groups. Two of the working groups focus on combating violent extremism and the sphere of criminal justice and the rule of law. Three working groups focus on the situation in specific regions, namely the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South-East Asia. The GCTF replaced the Counterterrorism Action Group, which was affiliated to the G8.
Afterwards, Minister Westerwelle left Turkey for Lebanon. Before that, he had already visited the Gulf states Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Last updated 07.06.2012