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Germany says Syria's Assad losing legitimacy

The Local · 8 Aug 2011, 13:40

Published: 08 Aug 2011 13:40 GMT+02:00

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"If President Assad maintains his refusal to engage in dialogue with the Syrian people and continues to resort to violence, the German government will consider he has forfeited his legitimacy in further overseeing the fate of his country," deputy government spokesman Christoph Steegmans told a regular press conference.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also regretted that Assad had failed to take to heart appeals by the UN security council to renounce violence and welcomed the recent strengthening by the European Union of financial and diplomatic sanctions against leading members of the regime, Steegmans added.

"Their further widening to include economic matters is currently being thoroughly examined," he added.

Earlier in the day, a senior member of Merkel's party, Ruprecht Polenz, had called for a global boycott of Syrian oil and gas exports in the wake of the latest Syrian military clampdown on civilian demonstrators.

"We only have economic sanctions left as a means to convince Assad that he must stop the violence and resign," the chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations told public broadcaster Deutschlandradio.

Human rights organisations say the regime has killed more than 1,600 civilians and arrested 12,000 people since anti-government protests broke out in March.

Speaking of a possible boycott of Syrian oil and gas exports, Polenz warned that such a measure should be agreed by the international community as a whole if it were to work.

"Before one takes such a step one must be pretty sure that such relatively rare resources do not find buyers elsewhere, energy-hungry China being one such potential candidate," he said.

Syria produces some 380,000 barrels of oil a day, much of which is exported to Europe, including Germany.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Merkel pledged "additional measures" against the Syrian regime in addition to sanctions already agreed by the European Union on freezing assets and denying visas to leading regime members.

Polenz also suggested that EU members join Italy in recalling their ambassadors from Syria "as a political signal that we cannot continue to communicate with Assad and his regime at the ambassador level."

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But a German foreign ministry spokesman, Dirk Augustin, later told a news conference that most EU countries still considered it useful to retain their envoys in Damascus.

"We consider it important that our ambassador remains" so as to maintain channels of information open and contacts with the opposition, he said.

Saudi Arabia this weekend was the latest country to recall its ambassador from Damascus for consultations.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

22:11 August 8, 2011 by Wise Up!
He's a DICTATOR!!!!! He has no legitimacy!!!!!!
02:00 August 9, 2011 by br_political
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
07:58 August 9, 2011 by harcourt
LOSING!! - Another example of Germany being behind the curve again. What country or statesman will EVER deal with Assad in the normal way again, after these five months of brutality. He will be a Pariah and rightly so !!
09:32 August 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
Harcourt, what world are you living in? All countries, Western or not, had normal relations with brutal dictators. And then, when it would suit them, they would go against these dictators. Following your logic, all countries are behind the curve. But of course, as usual, you would blame Germany even if it does the right thing. And then you would play the card of self-victimisation when others point out the flaws in your comments.
09:44 August 9, 2011 by HistoryProffessor
What is silly is that most countries think that sanctions, or an unkind word means something to people like Assad. It doesnt. Its a joke. Merkel can warn him all she wants or slap and santion or embargo she wants, he wont give a flying f*%k. This brutality or uncompliance to western status quo will continue until some level of force is taken to show that the western nations truely mean business. A threat is only a threat until it comes true, then it will carry some wait. Hit them once, fast and hard. Show that you mean it and then if values his existance he will give in. Where western nations will respond to diplomacy, and economic and social threatsm, these middle eastern prodiminately arab nations do not respond the same way. Until the western world understands that, Yemen, Syria, Iran, will all keep doing their thing and be defiant just for the heck of it because they know they can
10:28 August 9, 2011 by harcourt
ChrisRea #4

Now if Germany took the initiative and said we, and we alone, will not purchase any more Syrian oil or gas exports, instead of saying maybe we will join in if others step up to the plate. Now that takes a bit of political courage before an election year it also gets in front of the curve.

May I also point out that I am very happy to give Germany merit where merit is due, unfortunately it doesn't happen very often. Also I am very happy to critise my own country (UK) for errors of judgement and failures. This doesn't seem to be the case in postings about Germany by indigenous Germans here in The Local as far as I've noticed in the last 9 months.
11:09 August 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
Harcourt, it seems you did not understand what was reported in the article. Ruprecht Polenz called for a boycott, it is not that he said "maybe". Of course, such a boycott cannot work if only one country does it. So other countries must commit as well, before the boycott actually takes place, otherwise it would be foolish (when the results are zero, one cannot claim it was a proof of political courage).

How do you know the nationality of all commentators that criticise Germany on The Local? Or this was just another unsubstantiated statement of yours?
12:27 August 9, 2011 by harcourt

I have just re-read the article and you are quite right, I misunderstood the full intentions of Herr Polenz and I retract my criticism. However I think you would agree that Frau Merkel is naturally loathe to take courageous decisions before an election year, which might not be popular with the electorate, no matter how important they are.

The only postings that I was referring to, were ones where the writers actually state that they are of German heritage and will not tolerate any sort of criticism no matter how mild. You must have seen them yourself.
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