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Germans refuse to discuss Syria mission

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle ruled out even talking about German military involvement in Syria on Friday, saying it would be “counterproductive,” during a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Germans refuse to discuss Syria mission
Photo: DPA

He said he would not send troops to Syria, where violent political unrest continues to rage following an uprising against the ruling regime and a savage crack-down on rebels.

“The disintegration of the Assad regime has started,” he said. “No country allows itself to be ruled with barbarism and repression in the long term.”

The US government, however, is debating whether to send troops to try to stop the violence – in support of the rebels.

Syria has been in revolt for nearly a year, but fighting has intensified over recent months while the country’s third largest city, Homs, has recently been subjected to a wave of violence by the army.

Last month the United Nations said at least 7,500 Syrian civilians had been killed so far, with at least 100 more, including many women and children being killed every day.

Westerwelle welcomed the defection on Thursday of President Bashar al-Assad’s oil minister, a high-ranking politician, to the opposing Syrian Free Army.

Abdo Hussameddin’s defection showed that Assad’s regime was starting to crumble, said Westerwelle. Not only were many other lower-ranking politicians already leaving the president’s side, but increasing numbers of soldiers were also fleeing the country, for neighbouring Turkey.

“We do not want to escalate the problem, but to dampen the inferno in Syria,” he said. Germany should look for a solution along the same lines of sanctions that have been imposed upon the country by the United Nations Security Council, he said.

Westerwelle said he would be at a United Nations meeting on Monday in New York to present Germany’s three main aims for Syria: humanitarian aid, an end to the prolonged violence and a peaceful change of government.

DAPD/DPA/The Local/jcw

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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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