Foreign Minister Steinmeier on Germany’s support for Iraq

21.08.2014 - Press release

Foreign Minister Steinmeier on Germany’s support for Iraq

Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement on Germany’s support for Iraq at a joint press conference on 20 August with Defence Minister von der Leyen:

The Federal Government is extremely concerned about the advance of ISIS terrorists in Iraq. The suffering of displaced persons, above all Christians and Yazidi, who have sought refuge in Kurdish areas of Iraq with only the clothes they were wearing – I saw this for myself last Saturday – is unimaginable.

The methods that ISIS use to wage their war are barbaric and threaten the very existence of Kurds, the Iraqi state and the entire region.

We cannot remain indifferent to these developments in Europe and Germany. The collapse of the Kurdish lines of defence, or even the collapse of the Iraqi state, a military conflagration throughout the Middle East: all this may happen if the international community does nothing to prevent this.

This sort of catastrophe – if it were to happen – would have a direct impact on us in Germany and Europe. The consequences – and we are all certain of this – would be devastating.

This is why the Federal Government has decided to provide comprehensive assistance, together with our European partners.

The primary focus is on humanitarian aid, which commenced last week. With 25 million euros, we are ensuring that the refugees receive emergency humanitarian aid. We shall continue to provide aid in the coming weeks and months with the greatest dedication and – if necessary – expand our financial commitment.

All of this is important, but obviously not enough. This is why I am pleased that the Bundeswehr has helped to ensure this humanitarian aid before getting military equipment off the ground in the coming days. We have received requests for military equipment from the Kurdish government in Erbil, including body amour, helmets and lots more besides. Defence Minister von der Leyen will talk about this shortly.

We will, and this requires more preparation and logistical planning, also discuss what we can provide to improve the mobility of the Kurdish security forces.

Moreover, we can also envisage providing additional military equipment – this was the result of our consultation this morning after the Cabinet meeting, attended by the Federal Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor, Finance Minister, Defence Minister von der Leyen and myself. This may also include arms. The United Kingdom, Italy and France have decided to supply such equipment and we are likewise prepared to do this. We will liaise very closely with our European and international partners on this issue.

We are prepared to get this kind of aid off the ground for the Kurds as soon as possible.

All of this equipment is intended to help the Kurdish security forces defend themselves against ISIS attacks. In close cooperation with our European and international partners, we want to do this to an extent that supports and strengthens the capacity of the Peshmerga to defend themselves.

The risks that this entails are obvious, which is why we will approach the type and scope of our deliveries with the greatest amount of caution.

The German Bundestag will of course be informed – via its committees – regarding decisions of the Federal Government and their implementation. I have just spoken to the spokespersons of the Committee of Foreign Affairs on the telephone.

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