Development Minister Dirk Niebel told broadcaster ZDF on Thursday night that in effect Britain, France and the US were hypocritical for not supporting a complete embargo on Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's oil.
"It is notable that exactly those countries which are blithely dropping bombs in Libya are still drawing oil from Libya," he said – remarks that are hardly likely to ease tensions with key allies angered over the country's refusal to take part in the military operation.
Meanwhile Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Friday criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy's broad threat to Arab rulers that they faced Libya-style intervention if they violently repressed their own people.
"Every ruler should understand, and especially every Arab ruler should understand that the reaction of the international community and of Europe will from this moment on each time be the same," Sarkozy said in Brussels on Thursday night, according to online news source EUobserver. "We will be on the side of peaceful protesters who must not be repressed with violence."
Westerwelle responded on Friday by telling broadcaster rbb-Inforadio: “I actually see here a very dangerous discussion with very difficult consequences for the region and the Arab world as a whole.”
Sarkozy took a leading role in the decision to use military force against Qaddafi but annoyed the German government by apparently not consulting them first.
Westerwelle, who abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote last week to enforce a "no-fly zone" in Libya, said military means alone could not solve the Libyan crisis but that political solutions were also needed.
“What we need is a political process – this must now be prepared,” he said.
He also reiterated his call for a complete oil embargo against Libya and welcomed plans by the European Union to widen sanctions.
Merkel herself also called for an oil embargo in Brussels on Thursday. Both she and Westerwelle have insisted they wholeheartedly support the aims of the intervention.
It has been widely reported that NATO allies – France in particular – are deeply annoyed by Germany's refusal to participate in enforcing the no-fly zone and bombing Libyan military targets, as well as its abstention in the vote to approve the measures in the Security Council.