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Conflict in Syria

Germany to support destruction of chemical weapons

The German government welcomes the agreement reached by the USA and Russia on the disclosure and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. The words must now be followed by action said Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Germany is willing to do its bit, he added.

The Russian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State agreed on Saturday in Geneva on the further procedure for the monitoring and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Chancellor Angela Merkel saw it as good news, "that the United States of America and Russia are embarking on a diplomatic path". The words must now be followed by action.

Guido Westerwelle stated, "I welcome the agreement between the USA and Russia on the immediate disclosure of chemical weapons in Syria." Lasting peace in Syria will only come about through a political solution, not a military solution, he added.

Two things are now critically important, declared Guido Westerwelle. "Firstly, Syria must follow up its announcement on the monitoring and destruction of chemical weapons with verifiable actions." Secondly, Russia "as the power that has hitherto shielded the dictator" must at last exert pressure on the regime to stop it playing for time. "We expect the Assad regime to respect the spirit of the Chemical Weapons Convention from day one, now that it has applied to join the Convention."

Germany willing to provide technical assistance

The minister pointed out that the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have a key role to play. "We want to see chemical weapons banned and destroyed wherever they exist in the world, because it will make the world a safer place. That is why we are willing to provide technical or financial assistance in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons too." Germany has great technical expertise in the destruction of chemical weapons which it has been able to use in the past in Russia, Libya and Iraq.

Last Friday the German government welcomed Syria’s announcement that it would apply to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the possession, production, transfer and use of chemical weapons. "It is a first small step in the right direction," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

No playing for time

Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stressed, "We are not naïve. We are only interested in actual action." In view of the war and the suffering of the Syrian people, he warned the Syrian regime not to play for time. The German government considers three demands to be particularly important, said Guido Westerwelle:

  1. Syria should sign the UN Chemical Weapons Convention forthwith. "We call on Damascus to take this step without any further delay."
  2. It is also vital to create transparency as rapidly as possible. "Damascus must put its cards on the table and disclose its entire chemical weapons arsenal." Stocks must, above all, be inspected by international experts.
  3. It must still be ascertained who was responsible for the poison gas attack on 21 August. "That is why the International Criminal Court should in our view still deal with the use of chemical weapons," said the Federal Foreign Minister.

Sep 16, 2013