FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the world had become an unsafe place for far too many people, and everyone had a choice between engagement and isolation. “We could also choose to put our faith in the power of diplomacy or shrug our shoulders” in the face of the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Europe was faced with the choice of fighting to hold the region together or allowing it to fall apart again and be overrun by populists. Withdrawal and resignation or shared responsibility for a better future was the choice, he said. Whether the world would succeed in finding better solutions to its many challenges depended on resolving the crisis in Syria and the migration phenomenon. The United Nations would remain the central forum, he said. In the context of all the crisis meetings, “it gives me hope that we have made the right choice of the direction we want to take and that we have chosen unity and sustainability”. He condemned the latest nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In Libya and Yemen, Germany would continue to support the tireless efforts of United Nations envoys in those countries. As for Syria, he said the hope raised by last week’s ceasefire had been extinguished yet again.
It was time for a long-term humanitarian ceasefire that would allow aid to reach those in need, he said, adding that Moscow also had a responsibility in that regard, he continued. “If we do not succeed, all efforts to bring peace will be lost in a hail of bombs,” he said, noting that the Assad regime was continuing to bomb Aleppo “to bits”. He declared: “There will be no winners in this war”. As the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Syria, Germany was particularly active in helping to stabilize areas liberated from ISIL, he said, adding that it was working with the United Nations to rebuild schools and neighbourhoods so that people could return. Germany was also promoting education and access to labour markets in neighbouring countries that had generously opened their doors to millions of refugees. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and had begun training them to have the skills that one day would enable them to rebuild their cities. Returning home must not remain a mere dream, he said, adding that it was important to improve the international architecture for dealing with migrants and refugees. Noting that new rifts had emerged in Europe following the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea, he said it was important to step up dialogue between East and West, but the United Nations was necessary to ensure that diverging interests and opinions did not turn into lasting divisions. Germany’s history reminded it to do everything possible to avoid that, he said.