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Germany: Westerwelle warns Russia to respect NGO autonomy01:03

Germany: Westerwelle warns Russia to respect NGO autonomy

Germany, Berlin
April 25, 2013 at 18:12 GMT +00:00 · Published

Germany: Westerwelle warns Russia to respect NGO autonomy

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle opened a conference on German-Russian civil cooperation in Berlin on Thursday with a warning over its partner's attitude to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

"If NGOs are met with mistrust by the government, the conditions for their work become very difficult," said Westerwelle. "It's never easy for governments to be criticised. But it's important that policy recognises civil society as its partner."

The two-day event, entitled "Foreign Agent or Common Humanitarian Space?", aims to bring together representatives from more than 80 Russian NGOs with German civil society groups. The conference is being held in light of the attention paid to a Russian law requiring NGOs that receive international funding to register as "foreign agents" and submit to inspection.

"We expect NGOs to be treated fairly and with respect. If they are not, then we voice our dissatisfaction. We cannot accept if civil society gets more and more restricted," Westerwelle said. "Use of criminal law and imprisonment is in our view not the right path to take."

Germany: Westerwelle warns Russia to respect NGO autonomy01:03
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Germany: Westerwelle warns Russia to respect NGO autonomy

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle opened a conference on German-Russian civil cooperation in Berlin on Thursday with a warning over its partner's attitude to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

"If NGOs are met with mistrust by the government, the conditions for their work become very difficult," said Westerwelle. "It's never easy for governments to be criticised. But it's important that policy recognises civil society as its partner."

The two-day event, entitled "Foreign Agent or Common Humanitarian Space?", aims to bring together representatives from more than 80 Russian NGOs with German civil society groups. The conference is being held in light of the attention paid to a Russian law requiring NGOs that receive international funding to register as "foreign agents" and submit to inspection.

"We expect NGOs to be treated fairly and with respect. If they are not, then we voice our dissatisfaction. We cannot accept if civil society gets more and more restricted," Westerwelle said. "Use of criminal law and imprisonment is in our view not the right path to take."

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