Maas advises Lavrov on Syria

In Syria threatens a new humanitarian disaster . Russia has the power to prevent a major offensive on Idlib . The federal government does not have much influence on Moscow, but they want to use it.

Berlin (AP) – Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wants to work with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to ensure that a major offensive against the last Syrian rebel stronghold Idlib fails.

“We all know what’s at stake, and it’s about preventing the worst, a new humanitarian catastrophe ,” Maas said in an interview with the German Press Agency ahead of his meeting with Lavrov on Friday in Berlin . ” Russia plays a key role and we have expectations there, which we will openly discuss with each other.”

In the area around Idlib on the Turkish border about three million inhabitants are included. A major offensive by the government forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad , a humanitarian disaster with hundreds of thousands of refugees is feared. Russia is considered Assad’s protective power.

At first , Germany does not want to give in to Russian demands for quicker reconstruction aid for the war-torn Syria . Maas reiterated that such support will only be given under certain conditions. “If there is a political solution in Syria that leads to free elections in the end, we are ready to take responsibility for reconstruction,” said the SPD politician. “Neither the Russians nor the Iranians or Turkey will be able to handle this alone, so we have an important role to play.”

Maas added that the federal government could not imagine a lasting political solution with Assad. However, he did not call for a dismissal of the president as a condition for reconstruction aid. “The United Nations process of ending elections will place the final decision in the hands of all Syrians, including those who have fled their homeland and wanted to return.”

Lavrov had criticized the German reluctance to rebuild Syria on Thursday before leaving for Berlin . “Help for the Syrians could be an important area of ‚Äč‚Äčinternational cooperation, but unfortunately we have not yet found this cooperation with Germany ,” he said in a dpa interview.

Maas Although welcomed in principle the efforts of Russia , refugees to Syria due. “But that will not work if people do not want to take this option because they are being subjected to persecution, arrest and expropriation in Syria ,” he said. “In that sense, Russia’s return initiative is not promising at the moment.”

Official occasion of the visit Lawrows in Berlin is the conclusion of the year of German-Russian town twinning. The two politicians also want to launch a joint theme year for university and science cooperation.

German-Russian relations have been severely strained since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis four years ago. The Federal Government , however, is aiming for an intensified dialogue with Moscow, especially in order to make progress in its efforts to resolve crises such as those in Syria .