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German government call on Egyptians to renounce violence

The German government has condemned the violence in Egypt in the strongest possible terms. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Cairo and other towns and cities across the country have left more than 600 dead, according to official Egyptian figures.

Speaking on Friday in Berlin, government spokesman Steffen Seibert reported that the German government has called on all sides to act peacefully and renounce the use of violence of any sort. Reports of attacks on churches was being followed with great concern, he added.

"Egypt’s political and military leaders, as well as the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, bear an enormous responsibility," said Steffen Seibert. "Any further escalation of the situation threatens to plunge Egypt into chaos, as violence is answered by more violence."

The German government thus calls on all those responsible on both sides to accept their responsibility for the country and for the Egyptian people. "It is vital that the country return to the negotiating table and to a civilian political process," declared the government spokesman. "This process must be inclusive and open to all sides." The only realistic path forward is to achieve a peaceful reconciliation of interests among the various political forces.

Leaders must distance themselves from violence

Speaking on Thursday, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Germany expects the political forces to distance themselves unequivocally from violence. Equally they are expected not to call on their supporters to engage in violence nor to act violently themselves. "We call on all sides to return swiftly to a political process that embraces all political forces," he declared.

On the German television channel ZDF, the Federal Foreign Minister said that diplomacy and political influence must be used to help strengthen moderate forces in Egypt. Currently the international community is discussing the next steps to take, he added. To this end he had also spoken by telephone to his American opposite number.

Important to protect Christians

"It is always a serious mistake to resort to violence," Guido Westerwelle continued. "And I say this also to those who are attacking churches. For us it is also important to see that Christians in Egypt are protected." Over the next few days Germany will be watching to see whether or not Egypt’s transitional government really does what it has announced and return to a democratic roadmap.

There was an alternative to the many lives lost and the thousands that have probably been injured, said Guido Westerwelle. "Talks, dialogue, negotiations. A shared roadmap. That would have been the alternative. This violence was not necessary and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms."

Call to comply with security warnings

The Federal Foreign Minister also called on all German citizens to comply with the travel and security warnings issued by the Federal Foreign Office. "We urge all travellers to avoid demonstrations or any larger gatherings under the current fraught circumstances," said Guido Westerwelle.

The travel warning was updated by the Federal Foreign Office on Friday. Because of the unclear situation, travellers are now advised not to travel to any destinations in Egypt. They are urgently advised to refrain from visiting Cairo, tourist destinations in Upper Egypt or the Nile Delta. A warning has been issued for travellers intending to visit Northern Sinai and the area along the Egyptian-Israeli border.

Friday, 16. August 2013

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