Syria: preventing the crisis from spreading

29.04.2013 - Interview

Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle spoke about the situation in Syria in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. Published on 28 April 2013


Minister, the civil war in Syria has been going on for more than two years now with still no end in sight. Can the bloodshed be stopped without arms supplies from the West?

Whether to supply arms to Syria is a very difficult decision which has to be carefully considered. The situation in Syria is appalling. But the question is, will fewer people lose their lives if more arms are supplied? Germany supports the democratic opposition and condemns the violence of the Assad regime in the strongest possible terms, but that does not make terrorists and extremists fighting against Assad our friends.

And meanwhile innocent people are dying there every day …

A while ago I visited Syrian refugees in a refugee camp in Jordan. A father held his sick baby out to me, which showed barely any sign of life. I haven’t been able to forget that image. But as Foreign Minister I cannot allow myself to be led only by my feelings. We have to ensure that the war in Syria does not spread to its neighbours Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and become a serious risk for our partner country Israel. We will not abandon the efforts we are making for the people in Syria and in our dealings with Russia and China within the Security Council.

Has Assad used chemical weapons during the civil war?

I am appalled by the brutal violence inflicted by the Assad regime on its own people. The use of chemical weapons by whichever side would be a serious act. We ourselves have no information on this issue. We appeal to anyone who does know more to share their knowledge with the international community. I also call upon Damascus to finally allow the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the country so that it can investigate unhindered the accusations regarding the use of chemical weapons.

The questions were posed by Michael Backhaus, Roman Eichinger and Burkhard Uhlenbroich. Reproduced by kind permission of the Axel Springer Verlag.

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