Germany will maintain its ban on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Berlin after meeting his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, on Wednesday. Germany will hold firm on its decision to halt weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, shrugging off British warnings that the embargo could hurt European credibility and efforts to bring peace in Yemen, Agence France Presse reported from Berlin. “The stance of the government is that we won’t deliver weapons to Saudi Arabia at the moment,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after talks with his British counterpart about the decision taken in October over the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it added.
A decision on lifting the ban would “depend on developments in the Yemen conflict” and whether measures agreed to in recent peace talks enter force there, he said. Speaking alongside Maas, Hunt said actions such as Germany’s would not help the Yemeni peace process. It is interesting to note that neither minister, whose every move is normally reported, has mentioned the meeting on their departments’ websites, where all such meetings normally proliferate. This is clearly an indication of the embarrassment this public row has generated in both capitals. But the issue goes beyond embarrassment, as Germany’s unilateral veto is having serious consequences on national and international weapons programs in many of Germany’s defense partners.
Germany unilaterally blocks the supply of Eurofighter components to the UK. The veto is a new dimension and creates a precedent, as Germany is contractually bound to support any export by Eurofighter partner nations. The German government is thus deliberately risking the failure of current and future European joint projects such as the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS). BAE Systems is reliant on the approval of export licences by a number of governments in order to continue supplies to Saudi Arabia. Germany’s current position on export licensing “may affect the group’s ability to provide the required capability,” Bloomberg reported.
BAE shares fell as much as 7.1 percent in London, the biggest drop since June 24, 2016, the day after the Brexit vote. They were trading 6.4 percent lower at 472.3 pence as of 9:54 a.m. Chief Executive Officer Charles Woodburn said on a conference call on the company’s financial results this morning that industrial partners including Airbus SE are equally concerned about the German restrictions. BAE has been adapting its supply chain to minimize the impact of the ban, and is not facing a “cliff-edge” scenario regarding exports, Bloomberg reported him as saying. Prior to the meeting, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Hunt had sent a letter to Maas on February 7 warning him that Germany’s ban undermined common European defense projects and the ability of NATO allies to fulfill commitments.