Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has urged Germany to join Ottawa's campaign to promote human rights across the world, saying that "we count on and hope for Germany's support."
She promised that Canada would always uphold human rights "even when we are told to mind our own business […] and even when speaking up brings consequences."
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Freeland did not specifically mention Saudi Arabia in her speech at an annual gathering of German ambassadors in Berlin, but she touched indirectly upon the ongoing diplomatic standoff between Riyadh and Ottawa.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada have been tense since August 6, when the Canadian Foreign Ministry called on Saudi Arabia to immediately release the human rights activists detained in the country, which Riyadh considered as meddling in its affairs.
Shortly after, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultations, giving the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh only 24 hours to leave the country, freezing trade transactions with Canada and announcing the relocation of Saudi citizens studying in Canadian universities to other countries.
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Freeland responded by tweeting that Ottawa is "deeply concerned that Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador in response to Canadian statements in defense of human rights activists detained in the kingdom."
She pledged that "Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression around the world. We will never hesitate to promote these values and we believe that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy."
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"Germany is, according to information from Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia's largest European trading partner. Germany is in third place in the list of Saudi imports. It is therefore not in the German interest to be involved in the bilateral conflicts between Canada and Saudi Arabia," Frohnmaier said.
Germany's relations with the Kingdom soured somewhat when former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel condemned "adventurism" in the Middle East in November 2017, in what was perceived as criticism of Riyadh's regional moves. Saudi Arabia retaliated by recalling its ambassador to Berlin and, excluding German healthcare companies from public tenders.
The Saudi-led coalition, mainly consisting of Persian Gulf countries, has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi movement in Yemen since March 2015, after it launched a campaign to support the country's President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled the country when Houthi rebels conducted a coup.