Enduring Franco-German friendship
Foreign Ministers Westerwelle and Fabius
© Photothek / Trutschel
On 4 June Foreign Minister Westerwelle had a meeting in Berlin with Laurent Fabius, his new French counterpart. The main focus of their talks were European issues and the situation in Syria. They also took the opportunity to meet with French and German trainee diplomats participating in a joint seminar in Berlin.
“Governments come and go, but Franco-German partnership and friendship endure,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle emphasized. This was clear also from fact that Laurent Fabius had come to Berlin on an official visit so soon after taking up his new post, he added. The two ministers had already met at the NATO Summit in Chicago on 20 and 21 May.
During their discussions the ministers explored ways to resolve the European debt crisis. Foreign Minister Westerwelle explained how Germany sees the problem. What was needed firstly, he noted, was budgetary discipline, in other words, the debt burden had to be reduced and new debts prevented. Solidarity in Europe was equally important. “There’s a lot of talk about the cost of Europe and too little about the value of Europe,” he pointed out. Thirdly, a pact for growth was needed. “We want to complement the fiscal pact for less debt with a growth pact for greater competitiveness and new jobs,” he continued. For a truly rounded policy both these pacts were essential.
Shared concern about Syria
International issues were also on the agenda. Westerwelle and Fabius expressed concern especially about the continuing violence in Syria. Both reaffirmed their support for the peace plan drawn up by Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League. Although there were difficulties with implementation, the plan still offered the best chance of a political solution, according to Westerwelle. “We will work with our international partners to achieve a political solution.”
Laurent Fabius drew attention to developments in the Sahel, which were likewise cause for great concern. Famine combined with unstable governments, ethnic tensions and fundamentalist movements had produced a dangerous dynamic on which the international community needed to keep a close watch, the French Foreign Minister warned.
Meeting with trainee diplomats
Westerwelle and Fabius with German and French trainee diplomats
© photothek / Auswärtiges Amt
Westerwelle and Fabius also had a meeting with German and French trainee diplomats undergoing a joint training module in Berlin. The 100 budding diplomats are in Berlin for a week-long course focusing on European and bilateral issues.
Fabius hoped the experience would help generate a real “Franco-German reflex in everything we do”. Of course a diplomat’s job was first and foremost to represent the interests of their country. But one had to take the long view, he noted. In course of time these interests could become common and European interests.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle also encouraged the diplomatic trainees to get to know each other and stay in touch. “In the course of this week you’ll make a lot of friends. I’m delighted that this will make for even closer ties between our two countries.”
Last updated 04.06.2012