At a donor conference of the European Union and the United Nations, Germany has pledged a total of 1.7 billion euros in aid for Syrians. This is to be handed over either directly to Syria’s poor population via non-governmental organisations or to neighbouring countries hosting refugees from the civil war country.
However, it seems somewhat strange when the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, together with 17 European counterparts, writes an article in the “Welt” newspaper in which he explains the necessity of this aid and refers to the brutality of the Assad regime and its allies.
In view of the almost complete abstinence of the Europeans (and especially Germany) from geopolitical issues in the region, which recently came to light again in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the article seems like a helpless attempt to justify the aid money. After all, Europe does not play a major role in the crucial questions of what Syria’s future will look like.
So Maas proclaims, in classic multilateral fashion, “we are determined to enforce all international norms to protect the rights of Syrians.” How this is to be achieved remains a complete mystery; reference is made only to “domestic courts”, i.e. national courts outside Syria. It is obvious that these have little influence on what happens inside the country.
These moralistic announcements cannot hide the fact that the European Union can practically only influence Syria through the economy. This is done through the aforementioned aid and economic sanctions imposed on certain members of the Syrian power elite.
Europe will have to act creatively if it does not want to be sidelined for good in questions of geopolitics.