Chancellor Angela Merkel has shed some light on Germany’s position as tensions flare in Syria. She said Germany stood ready to assist its allies, but that Germany’s military would not be involved.
Angela Merkel twice stated that Germany’s military “will not participate in possible military actions” in Syria during a press conference on Thursday, but stressed that Berlin supported the need to “send a clear signal that the use of chemical weapons” is unacceptable.
“Just doing nothing at all is also difficult,” the chancellor said, adding that if the US, UK and France were to take military action, Germany would seek non-military ways to help.
Merkel also criticized Russia, albeit gently, saying that Moscow blocking a full OPCW investigation into the alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack “does not cast Russia in a positive light.”
The chancellor’s comments followed a bilateral meeting with her Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who said that Denmark’s stance on the issue was comparable with its neighbor to the south.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier on Thursday that neither France nor the US had yet asked Germany for any assistance in Syria.
“But if we want to maintain the pressure on Russia, then Western partners cannot start going their separate ways,” Maas said.
Transatlantic communication ‘a development that concerns us’
Twice, Merkel was also asked about the language of US President Donald Trump’s tweets, and whether these made diplomacy more difficult. She sidestepped the question in both instances.
But Germany’s new government coordinator for Transatlantic relations, Peter Beyer, told DW that Trump’s unusual style of presidential communication posed “new challenges” for Germany.
“First of all, the United States remain the most important partner of Germany and Europe as a whole on a global scale,” Beyer said. “On the other hand, we see in the past a development that concerns us, that brings a change to how we communicate across the Atlantic as compared to former times. So we’re facing new challenges.”
Beyer described military intervention in Syria as the “ultima ratio,” but said that the “barbaric, inhumane” gas attacks in Douma “need an answer.”
White House steps back, saying all options on table and nothing decided
Trump on Thursday rowed back somewhat from Wednesday’s explosive tweet telling Russia to “get ready” for “nice and new and ‘smart'” missiles.
“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place,” Trump said. “Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”