As Malian and French forces push deeper into northern Mali, Günter Nooke, adviser on Africa to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hints at possible German support for Mali at an upcoming donor conference.
DW: Mr. Nooke, Human rights groups have accused the Malian troops of mounting a campaign of revenge against Islamist militants, killing Arabs and ethnic Tuaregs. Are you happy that Germany isn't fighting along side Malian troops?
Günter Nooke: Basically people should be happy when they can avoid wars and violent conflicts. And this is what Germany is trying to do, resolving conflicts politically, and not be the first to send in ground troops. I think this is an interesting fact about German foreign policy. Anyone who is serious about the universality of human rights, shouldn't actually go to war because war always lead to deaths and massive human rights violations.
Nevertheless, one should have a police and sometimes military intervention is necessary. In this respect one should also note that we now have fighting going on in Mali, and it would have been better if the troops fighting there had been better trained and equipped beforehand. By doing that war crimes could have been avoided.
The chairman of West African States community ECOWAS and the African Union, President Ouattara and President Yayi have asked Berlin, through Chancellor Merkel, for military aid. You are advising Chancellor Merkel on African policies, what is your advice on that?
I believe we shouldn't leave the French and the ECOWAS troops to fight on their own. We should offer them assistance. As the chancellor said, we can support them by providing equipment and training for ECOWAS troops. That might also mean that we will support Mali by taking part in the donor conference in Addis Ababa on January 29.
Who will be participating in this conference and for what purpose?
No concrete plan has been made as yet. But we will definitely be there with the aim of participating in the crisis, but without pledging combat troops.
Does that mean that Germany will participate only financially, bouncing back to its old checkbook diplomacy?
No, that doesn't work. We are all aware that Germany has acquired responsibility in the world and its sovereignty through reunification. Germany has long been a grown up and it is taking full responsibility for its actions. And one has to be ready to do things that would perhaps need more clarification here in this country, rather than simply saying "we are the angels of peace." And the spread of Islamist terror in the Sahel also has an impact on Germany.
German Foreign Minister Westerwelle has stressed again and again that this crisis could be only resolved politically. How is Germany expecting to contribute to this?
There are some people and services that have a good overview of the Sahel region, and they also know some people with whom one can negotiate.
Does this include Islamist militants? A new group called the Islamic Movement of Azawad has just spilt up from the radical Ansar Dine and have announced that they are ready to negotiate.
Basically, you can negotiate with anyone. If you can fight with everyone, then it should be true that you can negotiate with anyone. The only question is whether the benefits' trade-off is higher than the damage, which also may be caused by negotiations, because it gives the wrong impression. That's why, this decision must always be taken by local officials.
Günter Nooke advises German Chancellor Angela Merkel on African affairs
Interviewer: Peter Hille