Interview with Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the crash of a passenger plane over eastern Ukraine. Published in Bild am Sonntag on 20 July 2014.
Who do you believe is responsible for the crash of flight MH17?
Every possible effort must be made to gather the necessary and available information. This includes investigating the wreckage. That is why free and unhindered access to the crash site is so important. Anyone who hampers or prevents this either has something to hide or is completely heartless, if not both.
Ultimately it makes no difference whether the shooting down of MH17 was a deliberate act or a terrible mistake. Anyone who deploys weapons like these consciously embraces the possibility of such a disaster and is evidently prepared to stop at nothing. I am absolutely furious that something like this is once again possible at the heart of Europe.
The fear is that even now, in the wake of the appalling MH17 disaster, the separatists will not comply with the most fundamental rules of our civilisation. That is both shocking and outrageous!
Do Russia and President Putin bear some responsibility?
It is crazy that such heavy weapons are being used at all – and according to the information we have, they have been manufactured by Russia. But I am confident that we can get to the bottom of the incident. Then it will be possible to clarify whether forces from Russia were directly involved.
What is clear is that the Russian leadership in recent weeks has not succeeded in preventing the separatists from perpetrating their dangerous acts. Weapons have continued to get through to them. Now it is even more incomprehensible that people with Russian passports such as Igor Strelkov – or whatever he is calling himself at the moment – are still able to wreak havoc in Crimea, Slavyansk and now in Donetsk without Russia putting a stop to them.
Will the perpetrators be held accountable?
The perpetrators and those pulling the strings must not be allowed to get away with it. The investigations will take time, but they will have to be conducted with the utmost care, determination and earnestness. We need an independent, international enquiry which cannot be called into question.
What is clear is that the terrible sacrifice of the passengers on MH17 must not have been in vain. It is now time for everyone to take a moment to digest what we might be up against if we do not manage to curb the escalation. We urgently need a bilateral ceasefire and effective controls of the border to Russia. This is now perhaps Moscow’s last chance to show that it is sincerely and seriously interested in finding a solution.
Reproduced by kind permission of Bild am Sonntag.