Relations can improve, says German ambassador

A document on the genocide, an apology and reparations as chapters is in the process of being prepared.

14 June 2019 | International

Christian Schlaga; German ambassador; We do not see a legal obligation to pay reparations but will put in place ‘measures to heal the wounds’ .

Swakopmund - Adolf Kaure

The German ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga says there is room to improve the political relationship between Namibia and Germany.

Schlaga was the keynote speaker at a talk hosted by the Scientific Society of Swakopmund at the Swakopmund Museum on the current status of German-Namibian relations recently.

The German ambassador to Namibia since 2015, said the two governments are still in negotiations over the historic past, especially the period between 1904 and 1908, which affected mostly the Ovaherero and Nama people.

“This issue is more complicated than we thought. We have discussed this complex matter for more than three and a half years.”

The German government appointed Ruprecht Polenz as a special envoy while Namibia is represented by Zed Ngavirue to come up with a solution to what the Ovaherero and Nama call the genocide of 1904 to 1908.

“Both governments want to find a solution through negotiations. We want to find consensus and set free a lot of dynamism in bilateral relations. This is important for Namibians an in particular for the affected groups."

Schlaga said that the two governments are working on a document with three possible chapters titled the genocide, apology and reparations involving the historic past and period between 1904 to 1908 in particular.

He added that Germany is willing to use and acknowledge the term genocide in a historic context and not as a legal term.

“Germany is ready to apologise, but first we need to know what we are apologising for. Reparations is a legal term. We do not see a legal obligation to pay reparations but will put in place ‘measures to heal the wounds’ from a historic sense.”

Once negotiations are concluded the most like ways in which Germany will pay Namibia for the 1904 to 1908 atrocities are through a reconciliation fund (financial projects to Namibia) and through a PACT (Particular Affected Commercial Treaty). The PACT involves a larger amount of money and will be used to benefit the affected Ovaherero and Nama communities.

“The amount of money to be given is what is stalling negotiations and the difference is quite considerable. We will find consensus even if it is not an easy task.”

The ambassador expressed his satisfaction with other aspects of the German-Nambian bilateral relations which includes culture and trade.

Schlaga’s term as German ambassador is said to be coming to an end this year and it was his last visit to Swakopmund.

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