German minister for development: Arms deal with Saudi-Arabia protects human rights
The German minister for economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, has no problem with the plans that have emerged recently that Germany wants to sell up to 200 Leopard tanks to the government of Saudi-Arabia, as the SPIEGEL reports:
The deal involves a mountain of money: The German deal to sell Saudi Arabia 200 "Leopard" battle tanks is worth some €2 billion. Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has yet to directly confirm the deal - and the opposition is furious. Given the pro-democracy movements in the region, it has demanded that Germany cease making arms deals with authoritarian regimes such as that in power in Saudi Arabia. But now the opposition has found a new avenue of attack. Germany, after all, is involved in training Saudi security forces in conjunction with the European defense company EADS. And according to a recent report in the German newsweekly Stern, the mission is much more dicey than previously thought.
In an interview with the German weekly DIE ZEIT this week, Niebel does not comment on the deal directly, but is quoted as follows (my translation):
The stabilisation of a region does indeed contribute to protect human rights - maybe not in the country where we are active, but in neighbouring countries. During the Cold War the military deterrence contributed to war not breaking out.
Wow...this is coming from the minister for international development: Arms deals protect human rights and ensure peace - just like during the good ol' days of nuclear deterrence and the crazy US-Soviet arms race (plus a few proxy wars - but let's not get too much into historical details here...)
In the same interview he also offered support to Greece through the German aid implementation agency giz:
We have a lot of experience in advising governments on reforms. That is why I am asking myself: Why should we not offer it as part of the support package to our Greek friends?