Pushing For Stronger Relation Between Yemen & Germany [Archives:1998/39/Law & Diplomacy]
Dr. Helga von Strachwitz, the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, has come to Yemen four years ago. She has been instrumental in improving the Yemeni-German relationship.
Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, Assistant Managing Editor of Yemen Times met Dr. Strachwitz and filed the following interview. Excerpts.
Q: How do you assess the Yemeni-German relationship?
A: The relation is very strong, which didn’t start when we took up the diplomatic relation with you country. It goes back to time of the German travelers who came to Yemen in the 18th century. They contributed a lot in making Yemen known in Europe.
And when Yemen became a republic, Germany started supporting its development process. Also during the Gulf war we stood by the side of Yemen, politically. It is a very long-standing, close relationship. Many German tourists visit Yemen. It is famous for its unique architecture in mud-brick and stone walls.
The President’s visit to Germany last year is a good example of the close relation we have. Nowadays I am doing my best to boost it. In short, it can be described as excellent.
Q: Do you find any similarity between the unification of Yemen and Germany?
A: Germany has a similar history as Yemen, being into communist and non-communist parts. We have already been supporting the unity of Yemen.
Q: What is the attitude of Germany towards the economic reform program adopted by the Yemeni government?
A: The boldness with which the Yemeni government and people have started the economic reform program is winning the admiration of the people in my country. It is very seldom that a country really means to institute reform as much as Yemen. It is a very difficult task.
We were full of admiration when the Yemeni riyal started to float. The same thing applies to the rate of inflation which fell down from 45% in 1995 to 9% now. This is something extraordinary.
We hope the other reforms like the administrative will take place. My country within its capabilities will stay by your side. It is one of the main contributors to Yemen in the World Bank and also a major contributor in the European Union, as it has 28% share in assistance to Yemen.
Q: How do you see this strong relationship developing in the near future?
A: We started establishing many projects some years ago like Taiz road and Al-Mahweet road. So we were more interested in the constructive infrastructure. Now Yemen has a very good road network. We are now supporting water sewage. We have been implementing such projects in Tihamma, Hajja, and Taiz. We will very soon do it in Saada. I am very happy that it is done in Saada because this will make the project distribution more equal. I think it is very important to develop such neglected regions, or they will continue with kidnapping.
The other thing is vocational training. We are very much involved in vocational training. We have established an institute in Aden. We also intend to establish many other vocational centers.
We are also interested in health and education. We are going to build many elementary schools. We are also driving the World bank to save Shibam from declining. We have also a number of scholarships; we are also instructing military hospitals; the last one we did was in Mareb. We will very soon open Al-Maqdis hospital in Sanaa.