NATO leader praises German role in Libya
Published: 02 Nov 2011 16:57 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Nov 2011 16:57 GMT+01:00
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has praised Germany’s role in the transatlantic alliance’s military operation in Libya, even though the German government refused to support it at the United Nations.
Speaking to the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Rasmussen said Germany had shown “flexibility” in moving its AWACS reconnaissance aircraft from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan. That allowed other NATO aircraft doing reconnaissance work in Afghanistan to be moved to Libya.
“Germany has, despite its abstention in the UN Security Council, contributed to this operation,” Rasmussen told Die Zeit.
Berlin's controversial abstention came during a key vote on a UN resolution to back military action against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi last spring. The decision created a diplomatic crisis with the United States, Britain and France, which all played major roles in the campaign to oust Qaddafi. It also sparked some hand-wringing in Berlin among those worried Germany was splitting from its traditional Western allies.
But it later emerged that Germany was quietly helping NATO by reassigning the aircraft, sending personnel to NATO headquarters to help with bomb targeting decisions and offering financial and diplomatic backing to anti-Qaddafi rebel forces.
The United States even praised Germany in September, with an aid to US President Barack Obama saying he was “very pleased” by the country’s actions.
In comments to Die Zeit, Rasmussen also said that the action in Libya revealed that European countries need to invest more money in their militaries in order to stay effective. He added, that the campaign was not purely humanitarian, but also meant to keep the entire region peaceful.
“I would say that the operation in Libya had the goal of preventing a destabilization from North Africa to Europe’s borders,” he said.