Political pressure on Russia over its involvement in Syria should be ratcheted up, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday after a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Maas was speaking a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out German participation in a potential military strike against Syria. However, Merkel said the full spectrum of measures should be considered.
“We are maintaining the political pressure on Russia and we would like to further increase it,” Maas said. “Getting Russia to change its behavior is a precondition for solving the conflict in Syria.”
He also said that as well as the country’s influence in Syria, the annexation of Crimea, the Salisbury nerve agent attack and hacking attacks that can be traced back to Moscow required a “clear answer” from Russia and the West should be united in its response.
Following the alleged chemical attack carried out by the Assad regime, Maas called for criminal prosecution of those responsible. “We want those people to be held accountable,” he said. “We cannot simply go back to our usual agenda.”
Maas, a former justice minister, and Juncker met to discuss the deepening of the economic and monetary union and said they agreed that the EU should increasingly base decisions on majority votes. “It’s becoming more and more important how the European Union is presenting itself to the outside,” Maas said.