Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on his visit to Algeria.Published in the Algerian newspaper “El Khabar” on 18 May 2013.
How do you see the state of relations between Germany and Algeria as you start today’s visit?
Our relations with Algeria have been traditionally good and they have intensified in the past two years considerably. The number of German politicians visiting Algeria has gone from two to thirteen over in the past two years, to mention just one thing. This is already my second trip to Algiers since 2012; my counterpart Medelci visited me in Berlin just this March. In spite of these very positive developments, though, I see many areas with potential for even more intensified contacts between our countries. Cooperation in the field of culture and dialogue with civil society are especially important to me.
What topics will you focus on in your talks with your Algerian counterpart?
Ending the daily suffering of the people in Syria is very important to both of us. How and with what the international community can achieve this is what we will discuss. It is also important to me to hear what our Algerian colleagues have to say about the situation in Mali, the Sahel and the Maghreb region. Algeria plays a key role here. Our experience in Europe has taught us that long term stability and security can be achieved mainly through regional cooperation and integration. I am therefore following the most recent efforts to strengthen regional cooperation in combating cross-border terrorism and organized crime with great interest.
How do you see the state of domestic reforms in Algeria?
For two years we have been witness to extraordinary upheavals in the Arab world. I am convinced that these are only the first minutes of a historic hour. This process will continue for a long time. Algeria is going down its own path. This is also related to its recent history. Since I was last here in January 2012 there have been parliamentary elections in Algeria, a new government has been appointed; there have been local and regional elections and a commission of experts has been set up recently for the envisaged constitutional reform. We welcome this and encourage Algeria’s Government to continue resolutely down the path of reform.
Has the Arab revolution lost hold of the values it represented?
I believe that the people did not make their courageous stand forfreedom and dignity in vain. Young people expressed their deep desire for dignity, freedom, democracy and a stake in the economy. They learned that they can accomplish something, that they can overthrow dictators. The challenges facing each country now are immense and could not be more different. There are going to be setbacks on this path. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Germany did not solve all its economic and societal problems that came with German unity within two years. Strategic patience is required.
Do you think security policy cooperation with Algeria is important for investment to be successful?
Fighting terrorism is a joint effort on the part of the international community. Of course the security of the location plays an important role in companies’ decisions. We therefore welcome the fact that following the hostage taking in In Amenas, the Algerian Government took steps to strengthen the protection for the facilities of international companies.
Is Germany’s Government willing to satisfy Algeria’s desire for technology transfer?
The best way to achieve a transfer of knowledge and technology is in the natural course of trade. As a member of the Liberal party, I believe that no state project can replace direct trade between Algerian and German companies. Because German companies in many fields of knowledge and technology have such a strong interest in Algeria, a good business climate for German investments in Algeria is especially important to me. That includes transparent procedures, decisions based on the rule of law and compliance with contracts. Algeria is making efforts in this regard. I applaud that.
During his visit to Germany, Foreign Minister Medelci spoke of the possibility of more cooperation in the field of vocational training. Do you think that is possible?
We are very pleased that Algeria is so interested in German vocational training. We discussed that topic during the third Joint Economic Commission in Berlin in May 2013 and agreed to look into closer cooperation. Companies such as Linde are already committed to local vocational training. I would be pleased if we could further intensify our relations in this field.