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Westerwelle mulled 'No' to Libya UN resolution

The Local · 24 Mar 2011, 11:53

Published: 24 Mar 2011 11:03 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Mar 2011 11:53 GMT+01:00

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Westerwelle’s office dismissed a report in Wednesday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that, in the midst of a debate about whether to intervene to stop Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's aerial bombardment of rebels and civilians, the minister wanted to vote “No” in the United Nations Security Council.

But similar reports have now surfaced elsewhere. News magazine Der Spiegel reported that reliable sources among coalition circles confirmed the FAZ report. Only after speaking to Chancellor Angela Merkel last Thursday afternoon, shortly before the vote in New York, did Westerwelle apparently agree to abstain, they said.

Daily Süddeutsche Zeitung also reported on Thursday that a “No” vote had been a serious possibility.

Germany eventually abstained, alongside China and Russia – a move that itself raised eyebrows. But a “No” vote would have been considerably more serious.

Abandoning allies

FAZ’s report claimed Westerwelle had been ready to instruct Germany’s UN ambassador, Peter Wittig, to vote against the motion, which would have been a slap in the face to close allies France, Britain and the United States, all of whom supported the resolution.

Germany assumed its two-year spot on the Security Council in January, promising to take a leadership role. The UN Security Council eventually voted last Thursday to permit "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Qaddafi’s military.

Both Westerwelle’s office and the Chancellery denied the reports of a planned ''No'' vote.

“This portrayal is wrong,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Westerwelle had been in complete agreement with Merkel and Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière, the spokesman said. Westerwelle and Merkel had made their shared view plain at a cabinet meeting last Wednesday.

The suggestion that Westerwelle wanted to go further and vote “No” was “a story from the realm of fantasy” that “someone without knowledge of the actual events is concocting.”

But according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the sources behind the story were familiar with the chain of events and a “No” vote would certainly have been at least discussed during Germany’s deliberations. It would have been rejected by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on the grounds that it would caused a diplomatic disaster.

But Berlin has faced plenty of criticism for its abstention, which has been slammed as being extremely detrimental to German foreign policy.

Damage done

Karsten Voigt, a former coordinator for US-German relations, said Germany’s ham-fisted diplomatic efforts had damaged transatlantic ties and weakened Berlin’s influence globally.

“Germany’s behaviour has been heavily criticized in the USA,” the member of the centre-left Social Democrats told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau on Thursday.

“As a European power and with consideration to the USA and France, Germany should have voted for it,” Voigt said, referring to the UN resolution.

The assessment from other members of the opposition has been equally withering.

Story continues below…

Frithjof Schmidt, deputy leader of the Greens’ parliamentary group, told the website of daily Handelsblatt on Thursday that Germany could now essentially shelve its ambitions for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

“Germany has isolated itself by abstaining,” said Schmidt, explaining that it appeared as if Berlin did not take the plight of Libya’s population seriously. “That’s certainly not the best foundation for a successful bid for a permanent seat.”

And on Tuesday, Berlin announced its warships would not participate in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya - a decision that drew a baffled response across the political spectrum.

"To place your forces under allied command but withdraw them when those forces may have to engage is a bald contradiction," political scientist Christian Tuschoff at Berlin's Free University said.

"Germany is no longer a credible partner in the Atlantic alliance. It has turned its back for the first time on the course it has pursued since World War II - this is a historic break with the past."

The Local/DAPD/AFP/djw/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:59 March 24, 2011 by Krim
Thanks Dr. Westerwelle, you are doing the right thing that one day the FDP will have no place in any Parliament in Germany.

the tax cut for Hotels

The wiki leaks cable and the reporting to the US embassy.

The nuclear politics

Now this behavior toward the criminal Gaddafi.
12:24 March 24, 2011 by freechoice
hell i am not even German, i would not hesitate to vote for UN resolution to handle Kadaffy.

where is the english version of German ex Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer criticism of Dr. Westerwelle foreign policy?
12:54 March 24, 2011 by steve_glienicke
To Be honest i do not suppose it would have made much difference, Abstaining is just a fancy word for saying "NO" refusing to vote when on the UN security council is just as serious in the eye's of Germany's allies, for the first real time in 60 years they had the chance to step upto the plate, but instead lost their nerve due to political implications at home, long term damage has been done, the Brit's, French and Americans will be thinking very long and hard on where and to what level they see Germany being involved in "World" politics, because they thought only of themself's and "Local" politics...
13:28 March 24, 2011 by freechoice
political implications can be easily solved by showing those rebel fighters screaming Allah Akbar when the missiles strike at key Gaddaffi positions.

German muslims will be proud of Germany.

dumb assed German politicians.
14:25 March 24, 2011 by Englishted
This man is a joke ,but he at least is leading the FDP into the wilderness.

Two years is all you will get in the security council and that is also a good thing .
14:34 March 24, 2011 by ngwanem
...and so what! if westerwelle was contemplating on a veto, must it be bad?

if you guys want to scream he committed an act of folly, why not support the removal of all dictatorial regimes in the world, which kill their own citizens when they protest? why only select libya as a case study and conveniently ignore/overlook the classic examples around?

that was a very good decision westerwelle - you showed some balls instead for following the spartan crowd, who are obviously heading to a never-ending war in the maghreb!
14:43 March 24, 2011 by Beachrider
First of all, Germany cannot veto in the Security Council. Veto is a special version of 'NO' when the voter is empowered to halt the process because of their NO vote. Germany doesn't have that stature/role in the UN. This vote doesn't help Germany's argument that it should have one, either.

A vote of NO would certainly have left a 'mark' with UK, FR and US. OTOH, it would have been something that meant that Germany wanted a meaningful role in the UN, even if it is diminished in NATO.

The German government gets to decide these things.
14:52 March 24, 2011 by Bishnu
The people are brainwashed by the one sided media like BBC and CNN , which I could see by reading these comments. We all are shouting and regretting why we attacked in Iraq and Afganisthan, where we have spent billions of dollar and of course we will not wine the war in a true sense. And still, we want our countries to involve in other wars ??? We all know , though the war is not a solution for these kinds of problem but still we are willing to on on for it .

Mr Westerwella is a wise person by raising the voice or at least not involving in it . We need thse kinds of politician. Hey , please wake up ...and see where are we heading towards ? Certainly, making ourselves more rsiky by involving in the war.

Clever china , which is just waiting the right time to lead the world and so called powerful US and its tails are sinking in a vaste Ocean of Debt !!!
15:04 March 24, 2011 by DOZ
Smart move on the German Government's part. Germany clearly supports the veil of Democracy in all these Arab up-risings, but up to now, all these Revolutionary calls for Freedom have not included calls for Peace with Israel, or the Acceptance of Israel. Without that, there is no intent of real Democracy. I am sure if this comes about, then Germany will lead the U.N.S.C. in seeing that all these Nations are supported to bring success in their Futures.
15:08 March 24, 2011 by reallybigdog
Interesting comment ngwanem. Islam and the powers of the region NOW fear that all its leaders are being systematically replaced by a common foreign threat. Germany, China and Russia by abstaining know that this is all going to blow up in the faces of the leading allies as its quite clear what their intentions really are. Its NOT just about oil but more important its about majority control of the region...they are nuts if they think they can pull this off without a full blown war.

China, Russia and Germany will gain dramatically as THEY continue to distance themselves further from the lunacy. Yes, they understand the plight of the people but also respect Islam and realize its not theirs to CONTROL. Most people just cant see the writing on the wall.
18:32 March 24, 2011 by tallady
Atta boy,,China, and Russia are shining examples of democracy and human rights,

China is a factory waste land on it,s way to imploading, with no concern for environment ,freedom,freedom of speech ,they shut google down if the truth is reported.Russia is rife with corruption ,and assassinations of anyone who speaks the truth about Putin.

Germany should through it's lot in with them. A marriage of real champions..and good friends..

I seriously doubt Germany will ever lead the UNSC anywhere. What nation would follow them,????
19:41 March 24, 2011 by lecturenotes2009
well, soon Germany should help Portugal's bail out and other problem in Eurozone... you don't talk about 1 billion of euros.. but it will be hundreds of billions of euros for the bail-out!...German taxpayers's money are wasted.

sorry if i am ignorant, but it is good that Germany does not support this action! imagine if we would support it, how much money should we provide to support this action? Military actions would cost billion of taxpayers' money!. For sure, the ALLIES do not want to pay all the cost of the action by themselves...LOL!

I agree with others, Germany is not responsible for the whole problems on dictator-led countries... We should solve our internal problems first before messing around the globe!.. of course, we can show our sympathy by helping what we can do, but no military action!
20:04 March 24, 2011 by frankiep
Good for Westerwelle.

I wonder if the same Germans (and people from other countries) who are screaming for something to be done to stop Gadafi were so gung-ho about going into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. Because I have to say, the circumstances are extremely similar, with the only major difference being that Hussein was even more brutal towards his own citizens than Gadafi is.

Now, how many of you can honestly say that you were supporters of all of the action taken against Iraq - from UN resolutions, to the no-fly zones, and finally to the invasion when the first two didn't work out as planned (and they never do)? The invasion of Iraq and removal of Hussein was the logical conclusion to all the UN resolutions and militarily enforced actions taken up to that point, yet to listen to a lot of people today it is a crime against humanity. What makes you think that this will turn out any differently?

Bottom line is that Gadafi, like Hussein, will not step down willingly. He will become even more brutal towards dissidents in an attempt to strengthen his control, and this will end with a foreign invasion of the country. It is amazing that so many people who claim to be disgusted with what happened in Iraq are now clamoring for the very same thing to happen in Libya.
21:10 March 24, 2011 by derExDeutsche
@ frankiep

you're making too much sense for this .de forum, frankie. chill out! have a Kebab.
05:04 March 25, 2011 by reallybigdog
Tallady your prejudice bias is glaring so i gather its your way of compensating for your lower intelligence.

I trust if Germany wanted to lead the UNSC it will based on cooperation from the remaining powers in Europe it currently leads.

Germans certainly have a far higher IQ than the current cabal out to start world war 3 with Islam that for certain. Cant get much worse....well yes it can now the Yemen is coming apart at the seems thanks to the US, England and France illegal war on yet ANOTHER Islamic country. Talk about calling China and Russia barbaric at least they aren't dragging the world into another global war!
14:58 March 25, 2011 by tallady
reallybigdog..,Of course they have a higher IQ, just ask them...just like yourself, would not be the 1st time the Germans have told us how intelligent or superior they are.
18:22 March 25, 2011 by dr.makni49
Germany did right or wrong to abstain, better sort it out through the horrible slangs that may be comfortable amongst you.

The fact is America is bolting out and ditching its standard bearer role in Libya by roping in NATO instead. Had US conviction been supported by morality of International Relations, then why hasty turn around. Good news is Obama is likely to face a battle field in the Congress that, he would find hard to fend off.

23:01 March 26, 2011 by Major B
Prediction. There will be a German politician who leads the volk out of the twilight world of adolescent international behavior. And after he gets his doctorate, ruminates on his mistakes, and finds his voice again, he will come bouncing back and I just bet the German people, and non-Germans like me, can't wait. For now the Chancellor needs to get her head out of the North African sand and your foreign minister needs to GO!!!!!
17:22 March 28, 2011 by uhrick596
Thank you Germany for standing up against something that won't matter 10 years from now. I wish the UN would get the clue that no matter what we do in the midle east there will always be conflict. Even if the rebels win, they will continue to fight because this is what they like to do. I am from the US and wish we were more like the Germans which is to think ahead rather than living in today and now.
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