Foreign Minister Westerwelle has expressed his deep concern about the religiously motivated violence in Egypt and called upon the military leadership to manage the transition to an elected government in a responsible manner (interview).
We have seen terrible pictures of Christians being chased through the streets of Cairo and killed. Did you expect the “Arab Spring” to turn out that way?
I am deeply concerned about this religiously motivated violence. It is unacceptable for people to be prosecuted on account of their beliefs. Like Muslims and people professing other faiths, Christians must be allowed to worship without fear. The road to freedom and democracy is also a road to religious tolerance.
How great is the danger of religious hate-mongers gaining the upper hand in Egypt?
The “Arab Spring” all began with people’s yearning for freedom and a voice in society. Now that the former rulers have been ousted, a genuine transition to democracy must take place.
Does it actually make sense to hold elections in Egypt as soon as possible?
That is something for the Egyptians to decide. However, the remaining elements of the old regime must not be allowed to put off elections indefinitely. We expect the military leadership to manage the transition to an elected government in a responsible manner.
What can the West do to support the democratic forces?
We must bolster the transition to democracy as best we can. We have already offered our support in the fields of justice, education and the organization of elections. What really matters is that people are given opportunities for their personal development and a genuine prospect of building a successful economic and social future for themselves and their families. In this, too, we want to help. This is why we need to open our European markets still further, including for products from North Africa.
Questions posed by Rolf Kleine. Reproduced by courtesy of “Bild”.