“Assad should make way for a democratic fresh start”
Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the European debt crisis, developments in North Korea and the situation in the Middle East. Published in the Neue Westfälische on 7 January 2013
As Foreign Minister, what’s at the top of your to do list for 2013?
Overcoming Europe’s debt crisis of course. This needs a three pronged strategy: budget consolidation, solidarity and growth. You can’t deal with a debt crisis by making it easier to pile up debt. But we also need solidarity and an agenda for growth. Growth is the product of competitiveness. And the only way to become competitive is to invest in education, research and training.
Syria’s President Assad has called for national mobilization. What can the international community still do at this point to end the bloodshed?
President Assad’s speech is nothing but a huge disappointment. He wants to impress the world with martial posturing, yet he’s in complete denial about the realities on the ground. We want to see a democratic fresh start in Syria. That’s why we support the opposition National Coalition.
How do you see the political outlook for Assad?
In his speech Assad was clearly in denial about the reality of his situation. His regime has started to collapse. Assad should make way for a democratic fresh start. All forces in the country should be invited to play their part here.
What do you think of reports that North Korea wants to open up to Western investors and seek a rapprochement with South Korea?
How far a cautious opening up of the country is really North Korea’s intention depends on whether words are now followed by deeds. Proclamations alone – even in New Year speeches – don’t mean anything much.
The situation in the Middle East remains very critical. Are any new attempts being made to get talks started?
The resumption of direct talks on the Middle East conflict is high on the political agenda for 2013. Our goal is a two state solution. Israel must be able to live in security, within secure borders. And the Palestinians have a right to their own state, as the two state solution envisages. That has our support. The crucial thing now is to refrain from doing anything that could make the resumption of direct talks between the parties more difficult. That’s why we’re critical of Israel’s settlement policy. And above all we condemn in the strongest terms, like the whole international community, the hate filled pronouncements of Hamas, which recently called into question yet again Israel’s right to exist.
The questions were put by Matthias Bungeroth. Reproduced by kind permission of the Neue Westfälische http://www.nw-news.de