Hezbollah, militia and political party rolled into one, is threatening Israel with Iranian missiles. The UK has just declared Hezbollah in its entirety to be a terrorist organisation. Is Germany not going to do the same?
The EU put the military wing of Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organisations as early as 2013. Germany supported this move. Since then, we have been observing Hezbollah very carefully and are consulting with our partners in the EU, the United States and Israel. The British decision is however a national step with no immediate effect on the position of the Federal Government or the EU.
What reason is there not to ban Hezbollah in Germany?
The current legal situation provides a range of enforcement options which are being used. We have a great interest in a stable Lebanon. Terrorist activities by Hezbollah endanger this stability, as does their fight for the Assad regime. Hezbollah is however also a relevant factor in Lebanese society and an integral part of the country’s complex domestic-policy make-up. It has seats in Parliament and is part of the Government.
What do you recommend?
We support the new Lebanese Government in its reform efforts. Our talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri were very constructive. We want to help strengthen state structures in Lebanon, particularly the military, as the state must have the sole right to the use of force. The economic situation is another crucial factor for the country’s stability. Of key importance is inter alia fighting corruption and improving infrastructure, also to increase the incentives for foreign investment.
Critics such as the US Ambassador in Berlin, Richard Grenell, complain that Germany is not doing enough to counter Iran’s negative influence in the Middle East.
The opposite is the case. The role Iran plays in the region is extremely problematic, also with a view to the ballistic missile programme and the human rights situation in the country. We are reacting to this through EU sanctions but also by taking steps at national level. The most recent example is the suspension of Mahan Air’s licence to operate in Germany.
At the same time, the Federal Government, unlike Washington, is upholding the nuclear agreement - does this add up?
Pressure is important but pressure alone doesn’t move us forward. We are also focusing on dialogue to save the nuclear agreement and to permanently preclude the possibility of Iran building a nuclear bomb. Attacks on our policy are aimed at the core of our foreign policy: our ability to piece together political solutions also in difficult situations. This is not something we are going to stop doing.