Westerwelle at Syria Talks in Moscow and Paris
Enlarge image Westerwelle speaks to the press in Paris. (© picture alliance / abaca) The news coming out of Syria remains alarming. The fighting is continuing unabated while the international community struggles to find a political solution to the conflict. During his talks in Moscow on July 5 and a meeting of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People on July 6, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has again been working for an end to the violence and the start of a political transition process.
In Moscow on July 5, Minister Westerwelle discussed the situation in Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. His intention was to sound out his counterpart as to whether Russia sees any new possibilities for a political solution following last weekend’s Syria talks in Geneva. The Geneva meeting of the Action Group for Syria saw a broad coalition of a number of Arab states, Turkey and the five permanent members of the Security Council, including Russia, discuss further increasing the pressure on the Assad regime.
The importance of close cooperation with Russia
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met for talks in Moscow on July 5. (© picture alliance / dpa) After their talks in Moscow, Westerwelle and Lavrov assured the attendant journalists that they supported Kofi Annan’s peace plan and intended to help ensure its success. “We are united in our desire for a political solution,” Westerwelle said, though he qualified this by pointing out that the two sides still had different ideas about how that political solution was to be arrived at. Affirming that he had not come to Moscow expecting to achieve a “breakthrough,” Westerwelle stressed the need to maintain dialogue. He described Germany’s position as wishing to increase international pressure on Assad and prevent the crisis spreading across the region.
Westerwelle considers close cooperation with Russia to be extremely important – not only on the issue of Syria but also when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program and security and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
This was Westerwelle’s third bilateral visit to Moscow. Apart from Syria and other issues of relevance to the international community, his talks touched on German-Russian relations as well. He said that what Germany associated with Russia was a strategic partnership which included relations between civil society in the two countries as well as cultural, academic, economic, educational and youth exchange.
The two Foreign Ministers’ meeting was followed by talks between Westerwelle and a number of other politicians and representatives of civil society on current developments in Russian society.
Over 90 participants at Paris Conference on Syria
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle with US Secretary of State Clinton at the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris on July 6 (© picture alliance / dpa) The Group of Friends of the Syrian People is convening for the third time in Paris on July 6. More than 90 participants will be searching for a way of launching a political transition process based on the six-point peace plan drawn up by Kofi Annan.
Syrian opposition forces will be among those taking part. This is vital to ensure that Syria gets a transition process that involves all the significant groups in the country. The German Government is hoping that Syria’s various opposition groups will form a more united front in Paris after their meeting in Cairo this week. This is essential if there is to be a peaceful transition in Syria.
The Paris meeting will be the third time the Group of Friends of the Syrian People have gathered, following two previous conferences in Tunis and Istanbul respectively. It will attract several international organizations plus nearly 90 states from all over the world, including Arab and other Islamic or predominantly Muslim states such as the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. Many European countries will also be represented, as will the United States, such influential emerging economies as Brazil and India, and a number of African countries. Alongside those representing individual states, the participants will also include the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.