World, Europe

Merkel’s government divided over Syria safe zone

German defense and foreign ministers clash over proposed ‘internationally controlled security zone’ in northern Syria

Ayhan Simsek   | 22.10.2019
Merkel’s government divided over Syria safe zone

BERLIN

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s call for a “security zone” in northern Syria has prompted harsh criticism from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Maas argued that the proposal raises many questions, but lacks details on significant issues.

“And it is also undeniable that there has been irritation among our partners,” he said, referring to questions and criticisms Germany received from several EU and NATO member states over the proposal.

Maas, a prominent Social Democrat politician, heavily criticized Kramp-Karrenbauer for not discussing her “security zone” proposal with him before making it public and only sending him a text message beforehand.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has made a surprise proposal on Monday evening and suggested creating an “internationally controlled security zone” in northern Syria, in coordination with Turkey and Russia.

She argued that the establishment of such an international mission would strengthen fight against terrorist Daesh group in northern Syria, and also promote reconstruction efforts in the region to facilitate voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

Kramp-Karrenbauer urged European countries to take more responsibility and said the upcoming NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels scheduled for Thursday and Friday would be a good opportunity to discuss this proposal.

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