Official collaboration between Berlin and Damascus has been “largely suspended” since May, when the Syrian authorities stepped up their use of violence against protestors.
But €5.08 million continues to be allocated to fund development projects in Syria, according to information covered by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The projects include efforts that are supposed to help regular people, including giving Syrian citizens safe water supplies. But they could still seem out of place following the strong criticism Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been subjected to by the German government recently – Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has repeatedly criticized the Syrian regime in recent days while calling for stricter sanctions.
Ute Koczy, a parliamentarian for the Greens, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the revelation was “extremely sensitive.” She said she thought development funding was difficult to justify it in light of the catastrophic human rights situation in Syria.
The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) needs to ensure that funding won't “be construed as support for the regime.”
But Christian Ruck, a Bundestag member representing Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives defended the commitment.
“We do not want to let people down,” he said.
The BMZ pulled its German staff out of the country months ago while announcing the general suspension of development cooperation. But it admitted to the Süddeutsche that some components of the water projects are continuing.
It did, however, emphasize that it is not working with the central government, but rather with local agencies.