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Trading warships

July 13, 2011

On a visit to Angola, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised the sale of patrol boats in a bid to boost ties with the resource-rich country. Back in Germany, the deal has sparked fierce parliamentary criticism.

Angela Merkel with the president of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos
The Angolan president said he'd consider the offerImage: dapd

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday that Germany was prepared to sell six to eight patrol boats to Angola as part of an international cooperation deal.

"Germany is ready for an energy and raw materials partnership," Merkel said during a visit to the oil-rich country.

In return, the chancellor suggested that the patrol boats could protect Angola's borders, the security of which is essential for regional stability.

She also offered Angola help with infrastructure projects, education and agriculture.

But Merkel's offer of military equipment was met with widespread condemnation in Berlin.

Fierce opposition

Angela Merkel with the president of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos
Politicians in Berlin are concerned about Angola's human rights recordImage: dapd

Although the offer had already been sanctioned by the previous government, members of the centre-left opposition were quick to voice their concerns.

Claudia Roth, the head of the Greens, described it as a bad move following the controversial decision to sell battle tanks to Saudi Arabia last week, calling Merkel the "patron saint of the arms lobby."

And Rolf Muetzenich from the SPD parliamentary group alluded to Germany's concern over Angola's human rights record.

"Angola is not an exemplary democracy," he told the German regional newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger.

"Moreover the presidential clan is clearly very susceptible to corruption," he said.

Development aid

In the past, Angola has courted both China and western nations as they competed for contracts and access to the country's oil resource.

Merkel greets students in Nairobi
Merkel's tour has already visited Kenya and will next move onto NigeriaImage: picture alliance / dpa

According to the Angolan investment agency, trade between Germany and Angola currently stands at around 400 million euros ($566 million). As the first German leader to visit Angola, however, Merkel was keen to boost economic ties further.

"Germany wants to build its presence in Angola in infrastructure and construction," said Ricardo Gerigk, head of economic affairs at the German embassy in the Angolan capital Luanda.

Angola is still suffering from the effects of 27 years of civil war from which it emerged in 2002.

But numerous reconstruction projects are planned and Merkel offered Germany's support.

"Angola still faces major development challenges, in education and professional training, as well as in reconstruction and development. Germany is ready to help," she said.

"Germany is a fair and decent partner, not only interested in making profits but concerned with the development of Angola," she added.

Merkel ends her visit to Angola late on Wednesday and flies to the Nigerian capital Abuja for the final stop of her African tour.

Author: Charlotte Chelsom-Pill (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Michael Lawton