Statement by Foreign Minister Westerwelle on the Middle East

Jan 30, 2011

Before his departure for Israel, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made the following statement:

“Ladies and gentlemen,

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 I embark today for Tel Aviv, where I will engage in talks with my Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman, among others, on the situation in the Middle East and events in Egypt.

It is clear that those who persist in believing democratic rights to be unnecessary only destabilize their own country and their own society. As of yet, we cannot tell how the political situation in Egypt is going to develop. The one thing we can be sure of is that nobody can simply go back to ‘business as usual’ now; nothing will be as it was before. Something is emerging in the Arab world, a yearning for freedom is manifesting itself more and more publicly, and this yearning for freedom, for democracy, for a better life, is something we in Germany can very much understand.

The Federal Government is on the side of those who call for democracy and civil and human rights. In the light of recent events, I find myself compelled to add that it is not only out of principle that civil and human rights ought to be guaranteed; guaranteeing those rights is also the surest way of working against instability as well as religious and political extremism. Those who have allowed themselves to believe that a country can be stabilized by suppressing freedom of opinion are forced to realize that any violence of this kind simply plays into the hands of extremists and fundamentalists. So far, the protests have come from the core of society, principally from the younger generation and the middle class. They are therefore to be taken seriously. President Mubarak’s words about reform must be followed by deeds. That is the international consensus. Freedom of opinion includes freedom of the press. Anyone who thinks suppressing modern communications technology or freedom of the press will help stabilize a situation will find that he was wrong.

The events of the last few days are going to be the subject of a lot more discussion. The protests which have been taking place first in Tunisia and now in Egypt, not to forget the demonstrations occurring in other parts of the Arab world, have shown how important it is that democracy and human and civil rights be taken seriously. That is the clear message we are sending from the German Government.”

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