Caitlin Hayden, the deputy foreign affairs spokeswoman for Obama told Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel on Tuesday that the president was “very pleased with the role Germany is playing” in Libya. She added that Obama expected “comprehensive and robust support” from Germany in supporting the country’s reconstruction after the ouster of strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
Hayden expressed particular pleasure with Germany’s decision to quickly recognize Libyan rebels as the country’s rightful leaders. She also cited German financial support of the transitional government and promises to participate in police training and water and electricity supply construction efforts as positive points.
Relations between Berlin and Washington soured when Germany refused to play a major role in the NATO efforts to hinder Qaddafi’s military advances against rebel forces. It also abstained from voting on a UN resolution backing military action. Other nations including France, Great Britain and even Qatar contributed to the air campaign with jets and material support.
The German reluctance isolated the country diplomatically and prompted strong criticism from leading elder statesmen including former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who said Germany had committed “perhaps the greatest foreign policy debacle since the founding of the republic.”
But Hayden said the Germans had been more involved in the air campaign than many people think, in particular by helping coordinate air strikes from NATO headquarters. That participation has been a bone of controversy among some German MPs, particularly in the Green party.
She also told Der Tagesspiegel that Obama wanted bygones to be bygones. When asked by the newspaper whether the US felt abandoned by Germany’s UN abstention she said the president regarded the country as “one of our closest allies.”