Eclectic Grounds

conflicts and conversation

Posts Tagged ‘turkey

Can Germany ‘afford’ a gay foreign minister? Or will it hurt relations with Muslim countries?

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– two often-debated questions in Germany after the recent federal elections. Following the victory of the conservative-liberal coalition, it is customary for the head of the smaller coalition party (the liberals) to become vice chancellor and foreign minister.

The head of the liberals is Guido Westerwelle. Now, in my opionion, there is a lot that is wrong with Westerwelle becoming FM: Be it his inexperience and previous indifference to international affairs, his political stance and style, as well as his apparent gaucheness on the international stage.

The more central question for many commentators, however, seems to be whether Westerwelle as an openly homosexual political can represent Germany as a Foreign Minister in Muslim countries.

Why wouldn’t he?

Diplomacy is probably the most pragmatic policy field. Quite regularly, countries or groups who are in the midst of the fiercest political conflicts, still maintain diplomatic relations. Just think of the close political contact of the US and the USSR throughout the Cold War, despite their existential ideological battle. You see the point: diplomacy is about interests and therefore mostly blind to ideology.

Why would that be any different with two countries that maintain friendly relations like, say, Germany and Saudi Arabia? Simply because of the sexual orientation of one country’s representative? Should the Saudi foreign minister be criticised at home for shaking the hand of a homosexual, his answer would simply be: do you want to jeopardize trade relations with one of our most important partners?

A statement from an official of the Turkish foreign ministry seems to confirm this. He told the Turkish paper Milliyet that, while there is no rule of protocol in case Westerwelle as German FM would bring his partner, “a middle way will be found”.

As much as I disagree with Westerwelle representing my country from a political point of view, I would love to see his appointment create some cracks the foundation of the alleged Gay/Muslim faultline.

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Only in Tibet…

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On ResetDOC, Michael Dillon comments on violence by the Chinese government against the Uyghur population and points to the underlying structural racism:

If [Uyghurs] don’t speak and read Chinese correctly, then they do not get a job. But they are also excluded for ethnic reasons: Han Chinese prefer to work with Han. Simply, there is a strong anti-Uyghur racism there.

Dillon also comments on the hesitant role of European countries and the US:

The difference is certainly that the Uyghurs are Muslims and Muslims are not very popular in the West right now. Though the main difference is that with Tibet there is an alternative government in exile under the Dalai Lama, so the Chinese have always been able to point at the Dalai Lama and say that he is undermining their control over Tibet. And a lot of Tibetans as we know support the Dalai Lama. That is not the case for Xinjiang. The Uyghurs do look to Central Asian states, such as Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, as a sort of a mother, but there is not an alternative government.

ResetDOC also features two more articles that portray the economic backgrounds of the conflict as well as the role of Turkish language spoken by the Uyghurs.

Written by henrik

August 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm