Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (12 July) on the centenary of the first use of mustard gas by German troops in Ypres, Belgium, during the First World War:
One hundred years ago today, German troops deployed mustard gas for the first time. The unspeakable suffering this caused must never be forgotten. Today we therefore want to remember the soldiers who died in Ypres on 12 July 1917.
This day also sounds a warning to us: never again must we allow a deed like this to go unpunished. Even 100 years on from Ypres, we have still not succeeded in liberating the world from chemical weapons. The use of poison gas in Syria and Iraq shows quite alarmingly how little some warmongers have learned. We will do everything in our power to investigate, outlaw and prevent the use of chemical weapons.
Through the creation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague, the international community has already made considerable progress in its attempts to outlaw chemical weapons once and for all. Only four members of the United Nations have not yet acceded to the CWC. The OPCW oversees compliance with the CWC and monitors the destruction of existing stockpiles of chemical weapons.
However, the international community has not yet achieved its goal. We need to do everything we can to bring to justice those responsible for the terrible chemical weapons attacks in recent times. The Assad regime must finally provide clarity on the actual extent of its chemical weapons programme and cooperate with the OPCW to this end.
Germany’s history bestows on it a special responsibility to create a world free of chemical weapons. We are therefore supporting the OPCW particularly as it continues to show great dedication and the necessary impartiality in fighting for this goal of eradicating the use of these barbaric weapons, which can inflict untold suffering even in very small quantities.