German chancellor not to attend Olympic opening ceremony

March 28th, 2008 - 7:11 pm ICT by admin  

Brdo (Slovenia), March 28 (DPA) German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials are not to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday. But he stressed that this should not be viewed as a boycott, since neither Merkel nor Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who holds the sports portfolio, had yet planned to attend in any case.

“As far as I know, Schaeuble has not planned to take part in the opening ceremony… As for myself and the chancellor, I don’t think so either,” Steinmeier told journalists ahead of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia.

“A no to the Olympics in order to relieve our consciences would help neither the people in China nor the sports organizations … At the moment I am against the kind of boycott debate that is going on in some European member states,” he said.

In Berlin, deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg said: “I can confirm that Merkel never had any intention of being a guest at the Olympics, either at the opening ceremony or at the sporting events.”

Debate now rages in many EU member states as to what, if any, measures Europeans should take in response to the Tibet crisis.

“This is not the right moment to talk about a boycott of the Olympics… We should watch how the Chinese government deals with the situation in the next weeks and months,” Steinmeier said.

But the subject of forming a joint EU position was unlikely to be debated at the foreign ministers’ meeting, Steinmeier said.

“I can’t imagine it, because I can’t say who has already decided to take part, so there can’t be agreement on cancelling that attendance,” he said.

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