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Poison gas attack contravenes international law

The breach of a taboo such as using poison gas to kill hundreds of people could not be without consequences, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised in an interview with the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung. The Chancellor ruled out German involvement in any military intervention without an international mandate.

“Where men, women and children are murdered with poison gas, the world cannot simply accept that,” the Chancellor said. Chemical weapons were outlawed by the international community, she said, and their use constituted a serious violation of international law.

Nevertheless, Angela Merkel added, the United Nations’ role was currently substantially weakened. It was, she said, very regrettable that Russia and China had for a long time now refused to cooperate on finding a united stance on the Syria conflict.

The Chancellor made it clear that the question of whether Germany would participate had not yet arisen anyway. “Germany can only take part in military interventions with a UN, NATO or EU mandate.” Merkel said that she was convinced that the civil war in Syria could only be brought to an end as part of a political process.

On Monday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated that the German government advocated finding a common UN stance. “We hope that there will now be an opportunity to do just that,” Seibert said. “We are giving the UN process our full support.”

Security Council must take on its responsibility

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to US President Barack Obama by telephone last Thursday. They agreed that the use of poison gas on 21 August close to Damascus, displaying complete disregard for human dignity, was a serious contravention of international law.

The Chancellor proposed that the matter be brought before the United Nations Security Council, which must accept its responsibility. Once the UN inspectors have completed their work they must report without delay to the Security Council, to enable it to take appropriate action.

The French President François Hollande also shared the Chancellor’s view that a poison gas attack represents a dramatic violation of international law, and that a response is essential.

The conflict can only be resolved at political level

In a telephone call with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel reasserted her conviction that this incident calls for an international response. She urged the Russian President to make use of the deliberations of the UN Security Council to ensure a swift, unanimous international response.

Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin agreed that the conflict can only be resolved at political level. They also agreed that efforts must continue to bring about an international conference on Syria.

Poison gas attack is a turning point

On Wednesday evening the Chancellor spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron. They both believe there is enough evidence that poison gas has been used against Syrian civilians. And the Syrian government has the weapons, the expertise to use them and the delivery systems.

The Chancellor expressly welcomed the British initiative to bring the matter before the UN Security Council. Angela Merkel and David Cameron hope that none of the Security Council members will close their eyes to this crime against humanity, and that a resolution will be passed to respond appropriately. The Chancellor agreed with David Cameron, François Hollande and Barack Obama to continue the intensive discussions about further developments.

Getting the parties to the conflict around a table

In an interview with the newspaper "Mittelbayerische Zeitung" the Chancellor said, "A terrible civil war is taking place in Syria. It has already cost more than 100,000 lives." The civil war can only be ended by a comprehensive political solution.

Germany supports the initiative of the USA and Russia to hold an international UN conference. "We must get the parties to the conflict around a table," declared Angela Merkel.

Risk that evidence will be lost

On Monday, 26th of August, government spokesman Steffen Seibert described the use of chemical weapons in Syria as breaking a taboo and a serious violation of the UN Chemical Weapons Convention. "The reports and the images, particularly of the youngest victims, are horrifying," said Steffen Seibert.

The fact that the UN inspectors can at last visit the site of the atrocity to conduct investigations is to be welcomed. The authorisation of the Assad regime came late, he said. "There is a risk that the delay and continued hostilities will mean that important evidence will have been destroyed," stated Steffen Seibert.

Friday, 30. August 2013

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