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03:22 PM, December 13, 2016
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German Churches Oppose Arms Exports To Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Germany's Protestant and Catholic churches on Monday have called for a revision of laws for arms export governing the approval of deliveries to other countries, pointing mainly at the Gulf states.

Martin Dutzmann, chairman of an ecumenical joint committee on development policy was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle German Radio that there had been "an exorbitantly high number of approvals for arms exports" in 2015 and the first half of 2016.

Dutzmann's Catholic counterpart, Karl Jüsten, criticized the fact that 59 percent of German arms had been delivered to countries outside of the European Union and NATO, or so-called third-party states.

Dutzmann pointed out that Germany last year exported arms mainly to Qatar which has been deemed "completely unacceptable" in view of the Gulf State’s active involvement, with Saudi Arabia, in the armed conflict in Yemen. "Exports to third-party states, and particularly to crisis and conflict regions, should take place ... only in justified individual cases. It is not least for this reason that we call for a new law shifting the burden of justification to those in favor of arms exports," he said.

The GKKE authors singled out the delivery of German weapons to Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq as a possibly dangerous precedent. "The risks of such a policy can turn out to be greater in the long term than was believed in the short term," they said.

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