“The dictator Qadhafi must go” (Interview)

01.03.2011 - Interview

Federal Minister Guido Westerwelle on the situation in Libya and the EU accession negotiations with Turkey.Published in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten on 1 March 2011


Mr Westerwelle, what impression can sanctions make on a dictator like Qadhafi who is waging war against his own people?

This is about the entire ruling elite and about sending a message to the members of this ruling family and the autocratic leadership: you will be personally called to account for using brutal violence against your own people. The referral of this matter to the International Court of Justice, as decided by the UN, is therefore of great significance.

Would the UN also consider taking military action to protect the Libyan people?

That’s speculation. The task in hand now is to support the transition. A ruling family which is waging war on its own people has reached the end of the line. The dictator Qadhafi must go. That’s precisely why the German Government pressed for sanctions, which were adopted today. They include travel bans and restrictions for the ruling family, as well as the freezing of assets. No-one who uses violence against their own people can believe they can spend a quiet retirement on their latifundia somewhere in the world.

Will Germany be faced with a wave of refugees?

We are neither willing nor able today to take in everyone from North Africa. It’s therefore important to ensure through a North-South pact that conditions in North Africa improve. People didn’t only take to the streets in Tunisia and Egypt for democracy but also for better life chances. We should now do all we can to ensure that these courageous people benefit from their actions. That’s the best way to stem the flows of refugees.

The second fear is that after euro rescue packages worth billions the EU states are again facing considerable costs…

We will provide financial support, both bilaterally and within the EU framework, for this is about our immediate neighbourhood. Any country that wants to prevent flows of refugees is wise to help develop these countries in upheaval. We have to realize that we will also benefit considerably from this assistance in the long run, for a new middle class is emerging. These countries on the move are very interested in German investments. Germany’s prosperity depends on its links with the wider world.

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just visited Germany.Do you support the demand from Volker Kauder, the leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, that the EU accession negotiations with Turkey should be stopped due to the lack of religious freedom in that country?

As has been agreed at international level, the accession negotiations are being conducted as an open-ended process. We have to treat Turkey with fairness and respect. If a decision had to be reached today, Turkey would not be ready to accede, neither would the EU be ready to accept the country into its fold. But we don’t have to make a decision today but, rather, in a few years’ time. Until then it’s in the interest of us all that Turkey continues to forge closer ties with Europe. However, I want to add that children who grow up in Germany must, first and foremost, learn German. That’s the key to integration and to ensuring that these children have a bright future.


Reproduced with the kind permission of the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

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