Nobody can seriously deny that mistakes were made and we must learn from these mistakes, admits Heiko Maas.
Berlin (AA) – Germany’s embattled foreign minister on Friday dismissed public calls for his resignation over mishandling the Afghan crisis.
Speaking to newsmagazine Der Spiegel, Heiko Maas stressed that he is not thinking of resigning over his Afghanistan strategy.
Asked whether he had thought about it, Maas said: “In the past few days I have only thought of one thing, namely drawing conclusions from the mistakes we have all made and making sure to get as many people out of Afghanistan as possible.”
He added, “That is the damned duty of everyone who has been involved in the developments of the past few days and weeks.”
Maas, who only two months ago dismissed suggestions that the Taliban were on the verge of seizing control of Afghanistan, has faced mounting public calls to resign after acknowledging that he “misread the situation.”
“Nobody can seriously deny that there were misjudgments. We have to process all of this. From the specific processes in the last few days and weeks to political questions that arise for us in Germany, but also for the international community,” he said.
German parliamentarians on Wednesday lashed out at Haas for his failed Afghanistan policy, especially his management of the evacuation plans as Germany’s military is racing against time to airlift the country’s remaining nationals and local Afghan staff out of Kabul.
Speaking ahead of a special session of the foreign affairs committee on the situation in Afghanistan, Norbert Roettgen, the committee’s Christian Democratic chair, sharply criticized the government for falsely assessing the political situation in Afghanistan over the past several weeks.
Roettgen called the dramatic events in the war-stricken country a “political catastrophe and human drama,” saying this was also “a moral failure of the West.”
There are still “many people in Kabul to whom we have a responsibility to bring them to safety in Germany.” But it is unclear how long the airport will remain open there and “whether people can come to the airport at all,” Roettgen added.
Roettgen’s remarks were echoed by a Green opposition parliamentary deputy who levelled serious accusations against the government for the dramatic situation in Afghanistan.
“We are dealing with a collective failure,” said Green party foreign policy expert Jurgen Trittin.
Chancellor Angela Merkel “did what she does best: nothing. And Heiko Maas provided the reports for it, whitewashing reports on the situation in Afghanistan,” he added.
Like other Western governments, Berlin is facing intense pressure for not doing enough to get Afghan helpers outside of the war-stricken country as many fear for their lives if they stay there.