Foreign Minister Westerwelle spoke to the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper about current developments in Syria. The interview appeared on 11 September 2013.
Minister Westerwelle, you have welcomed John Kerry’s initiative to give the Assad regime one week to hand over its chemical weapons stockpiles to the international community. Are you among those who believe the ultimatum will work?
Things are starting to move again now for the first time in months. If Syria’s chemical weapons could be brought under international control, that would be an important first step in the right direction. Chemical weapons need to be recognised as unacceptable and banned. I strongly urge the Assad regime to accede without delay to the Chemical Weapons Convention and grant international experts unhindered access to its chemical weapons arsenal.
Why was it so difficult to make Germany’s position on Syria part of a broader consensus at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg and the Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vilnius?
In Vilnius, we managed to reach a unanimous position amongst the European Union. We negotiated successfully. We can’t just always talk about European foreign policy and then take important decisions as individual states. We want joint positions shared by all 28 EU countries, not just five.
Do you think a military strike by the West would render a repeat of the poison gas attack in Syria impossible?
I’m not going to speculate about that. We are going to keep advocating and working hard towards making a political solution possible. Things are starting to move again now. Next, we need to see Moscow and Damascus back their words with deeds.
Does the United States still have the necessary room for manoeuvre for a political solution, as you see things?
President Obama welcomed the latest developments on Monday. The Senate has postponed its vote on a US military strike. The decision has not yet been taken in the US.
This interview was conducted by Winfried Züfle and is reproduced here by kind permission of the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.