Germany’s Foreign Minister Maas faces criticism after ignoring Defence Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer
Germany’s grand coalition argues about Defence Minister and CDU chair Kramp-Karrenbauer’s proposal for a safety zone in Syria. Foreign Minister Maas has called her idea “unrealistic” and receives support by his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu. The story in Germany is a different one, however.
CDU politicians have sharply criticized the behaviour of Foreign Minister Maas during his visit to Turkey. “A foreign minister, who is apparently more concerned about his own appearance in Turkey than with the situation of the people in northern Syria, need not be commented on,” CDU General Secretary Ziemiak said, before opining that “such behaviour speaks for itself.”
On Saturday, Maas and his Turkish counterpart Cavusoglu had jointly chastised Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer’s proposal for an UN-led UN Security Zone in northern Syria. This was preceded by several public critical statements on the part of Maas.
Even harsher than Ziemiak spokesman for human rights and humanitarian aid of the Union, Michael Brand, expressed his criticism of Maas. “The Foreign Minister should urgently reflect on his oath of office and devote all his energies to the protection of international law, such as averting a threatening humanitarian catastrophe,” Brand said. The Foreign Minister had “submissively” thrown himself at the side of a partner who “breaks international law in Syria and is a stirrer for dangerous power games in Russia”.
CDU foreign policy expert Norbert Röttgen also criticized Maas’ conduct. “This is an embarrassing moment in German foreign policy. Turkey is undertaking an invasion of Syria in violation of international law, and the German Foreign Minister is travelling to Ankara to confirm that an international security zone under UN mandate rather than Turkish occupation is not a good idea,” Röttgen stated seemingly incredulously.
Ankara ought to be delighted with its German visitor (meaning Maas), Röttgen said before concluding that “the most important thing for the Turkish side was that they talked without any consequences.”
Meanwhile, FDP leader Christian Lindner commented: “Maas uses a trip to Turkey to take a grand coalition dispute over Syria on the world stage. Chancellor Merkel had to clarify the government’s position immediately, Lindner urged.
Cavusoglu seemed to concur. During a press conference with Maas Cavusoglu said: “We understand that Germany should first clarify its domestic affairs. I do not interfere in German affairs.”
Meanwhile, Maas confirmed to Cavusoglu that Kramp-Karrenbauer’s proposal was not an official government position: “The issue of the security zone has taken less time in our conversation than at this press conference, which says it all. Everywhere is actually said that this is not a realistic proposal – Maas continued to opine, before stating that “for things that are more theoretical at the moment we did not have the time, as the people in Syria lack the time for theoretical debates.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer is under severe pressure within her own party after three disastrous state elections, and it remains to be seen how she will attempt to increase her profile in the ongoing dispute with Maas.