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The way to Europe is through democracy and the rule of law” (interview)

02.05.2012 - Interview


Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in an interview on the current situation in Ukraine and the European fiscal compact. Published in Bild Berlin Brandenburg of 2 May 2012 (excerpt) and on www.bild.de (full text).

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Mr Westerwelle, is the Federal Government going to boycott the European football championships in Ukraine if Yulia Tymoshenko is not released soon?

We will take that decision when it’s time to do so. What matters now is that Yulia Tymoshenko finally receives proper medical treatment. We have therefore offered to treat Ms Tymoshenko in a German hospital where appropriate care is guaranteed.

What if the Ukrainian Government does not accept the offer?

I am deeply concerned about the health of Yulia Tymoshenko and the other former government members imprisoned in Ukraine. It is now President Yanukovych who has to take the next step. As a member of the Council of Europe, Ukraine has undertaken to respect minimum human rights standards. We urge President Yanukovych’s Government to live up to this obligation. Everyone in Kyiv should know that there is no time to tarry. The Ukrainian Government must know: the way to Europe crosses a bridge built on two pillars – democracy and the rule of law.

Should the EURO 2012 matches scheduled to take place in Ukraine be moved if necessary – for example to Germany?

This is not the question today. I wonder, however, how President Yanukovych imagines care-free football can be played in Kharkiv while Yulia Tymoshenko languishes nearby without receiving urgently needed medical care. I can very well imagine the reaction of spectators all over the world. Politicians, sportsmen and women, the media and fans will not be dissuaded from condemning the violation of human rights in Ukraine during the tournament.

Your party comrade Wolfgang Kubicki has demanded a boycott by fans. Do you agree with him?

I understand the outrage felt by many football fans but as Foreign Minister I am looking for a way to avoid a boycott. If we are to improve the situation of Yulia Tymoshenko and the other prisoners we cannot allow talks with Ukraine to be broken off. It is now important to find solutions in direct talks with the Ukrainian Government.

Why does the Federal Government not criticize human rights violations in China just as resolutely as it criticizes deplorable conditions in Ukraine?

We advocate respect for human rights worldwide. But we have a special responsibility when human rights are violated within Europe. We are living up to this responsibility. We want a Ukraine that is part of the European family of values. Therefore we are not going to stand back and do nothing while democracy and the rule of law are found wanting and the fate of Yulia Tymoshenko and the other prisoners remains uncertain.

Moving on to another subject: France will elect a new President on Sunday. Will Europe take on even more debt should Socialist François Hollande win?

Europe will stick to the agreed policy of budget consolidation. The fiscal compact to limit debts in Europe will not be compromised.

But François Hollande, is against Europe’s austerity policy. He would rather opt for large-scale growth programmes to strengthen the economy.

There will be no boosting the European economy by yet more borrowing. After the fiscal compact to tackle debt we now need a growth pact to improve competitiveness. We therefore have to rigorously restructure European budgets. We need fewer subsidies and more investment in growth, education and competitiveness.

Questions: Stephan Haselberger. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bild.

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