German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga says both the German and Namibian governments have agreed to finalise negotiations over the genocide issue by the end of this year.
Schlaga’s assurances come at a time when Namibia is embroiled in a heated debate about the perceived exclusion of representatives of affected tribes from the negotiations, in which reparations are fiercely demanded by the affected communities.
Schlaga carefully avoided giving any hint that such reparations are a possible outcome of the negotiations. In fact, he steered clear of the subject by confining his remarks to possibilities of a common assessment of the events. He said they would focus on the aspect of a formal apology and the issue of redress, particularly the possibility of any kind of special support in this context.
Schlaga said this when he briefed the media on the three-day visit undertaken recently by Namibia’s special delegation on genocide, led by Dr Zed Ngavirue. “Due to the elections taking place in Germany next year, we want to finish genocide talks and negotiations by the end of this year,” Schlaga said.
He maintained he is very optimistic about the development of a framework that would set the stage for negotiations over the issue between the two countries. According to him, the framework for the negotiations takes cognisance of the good and friendly relations between Namibia and Germany and aspires to create a win-win situation.
He also said both governments have decided to embark on the negotiation process in a manner that is beneficial to both our countries and peoples. He noted that a follow-up meeting between the two envoys is expected to take place in Namibia towards the end of June.
For over a decade, the OvaHerero, Ovambanderu and Nama people have sought reparations from Germany for the official policy of extermination enforced by the German colonial government in then German South West Africa between 1904 and 1908.
In 2001, the affected communities filed a US$4 billion lawsuit against the German government and two German firms in the United States of America, but Germany dismissed the claim, saying international rules on the protection of combatants and civilians were not in existence at the time of the conflict.
The then commander of the German Imperial Forces, General Lothar von Trotha, had issued the infamous ‘extermination orders’ against the OvaHerero and Nama in 1904, leading to the death of between 65 000 and 80 000 OvaHerero and Nama people, many of whom were either killed in subsequent battles or died of thirst and starvation as they were driven into the arid Omaheke desert.
German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Schlaga