Interview with Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, published in the General-Anzeiger Bonn newspaper on 5 September 2011
Do you believe the Greeks will be able to implement their plans, or are you sceptical?
We want to protect Europe, and most especially the euro. The Social Democrats and the Greens suggest we do that by making it easier to rack up debts, for example by introducing eurobonds. However, you don’t overcome a debt crisis by making it easier to incur debts. The only solution is to ensure that a culture of stability takes root throughout Europe. Other countries are now following Germany’s example and incorporating debt brakes into their constitutions. That would have been inconceivable a year ago. We need more competitiveness and more budgetary discipline in Europe. What we don’t need are eurobonds, which would make it easier to run up debts.
How big is the threat facing the euro and Europe’s future?
Europe guarantees our prosperity in the age of globalization. In China alone, 1.3 billion people are seeking to achieve a level to prosperity comparable to our own. We mustn’t believe that we nation-states in Europe, not even Germany with its 80 million inhabitants, could tackle these challenges and global competition on our own. If we want to defend and enhance our prosperity and our quality of life, we have to strive for even greater cooperation in Europe.
Your stance on Libya was sharply criticized last week. Do you think you made mistakes in connection with the UN decision?
That debate was conducted at length last week. Our priority now is to establish how we can help ensure that democracy and prosperity can be built in the transition countries Tunisia, Egypt, and now also Libya.
What’s Germany’s role in this?
We Germans are held in particularly high regard in North Africa because of our economic prowess. Our work will focus on developing infrastructure and industry. We’ll also help construct democratic civil societies and provide humanitarian assistance.
Let’s go back to the decision on Libya: would you abstain again in a UN Security Council vote concerning a military operation in Libya?
Everyone knows that this was a difficult decision and one we weighed up very carefully. The German Government repeatedly stated its reasons for deciding not to take part in a military intervention in Libya to Parliament and the public. Now we’re looking to the future.
What does that mean in concrete terms?
If the democracy movement in North Africa is to be successful, then positive economic development has to be initiated quickly. That will require more than financial assistance. We also have to open our markets to these states so that they rebuild their countries by their own efforts.
The questions were put by Andreas Tyrock, Sandro Schmidt and Kai Pfundt
Reproduced with the kind permission of the General-Anzeiger Bonn. Click here to read the entire interview: