As chairman of Germany’s biggest oil and gas producer, Rainer Seele has seen it all. Wintershall has production facilities not just in political oases such as Norway and Great Britain but also in Libya – despite all the wartime imponderables, both before and after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
But even hardened entrepreneurs can hardly fail to be overwhelmed by the concentration of war and conflicts in the region. In view of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and the advance of the Islamic State, Mr. Seele said, “I cannot imagine many colleagues summoning up the entrepreneurial courage to increase their investments in these countries.”
Mr. Seele was in Berlin on Monday, not as boss of Wintershall, but as chairman of the Near and Middle East Club of the German Economy, to give his evaluation of this crisis-torn, neighboring region of Europe. Mr. Seele told it the way it was. Why shouldn’t he? After all, the wars and conflicts affect the economy too. Volker Treier, the German Chamber of Commerce’s head of foreign trade, said, “Confidence can hardly be built in such times, German companies are holding back with investments or are even leaving the site locations.”
However, Mr. Seele warned about writing off the entire region: The Near and Middle East offers “enormous potential for the German economy.” Like many other experts, he called for a differentiated approach to the Arab world.