Foreign Minister Steinmeier received his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallström, Danish counterpart Kristian Jensen and Finnish counterpart Timo Soini at Villa Borsig on Tuesday (8 November). Their talks focused on European affairs and security policy issues. Steinmeier also issued statements on fresh allegations from Turkey and on the US elections.
New commitment to Europe
With the financial crisis, debates surrounding support for countries in need, displacement and migration and, most recently, the UK’s Brexit decision, the European Union had experienced major upheavals in recent years, said Steinmeier following talks with his counterparts from Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
The task at hand now was to “keep the European ship on course”, he continued. He said that Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland were in agreement that the EU remained their common project for the future, one which now needed renewed commitment.
One step in this direction is the cooperation between Germany and the Scandinavian member states of the EU, which have held regular informal meetings since 2014.
Common goals and visions
The EU must offer the people better solutions in many areas, said Steinmeier, especially with respect to migration and security. Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have common goals and visions in this area.
Prior to the meeting, the four countries therefore submitted joint proposals concerning improvements to civil‑military cooperation in the EU in a letter to Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative, for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Focus on the security situation in the Baltic Sea region
Germany and the Scandinavian countries were also particularly concerned by the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, Steinmeier continued. The security situation in Europe had changed at the latest since the annexation of Crimea, he went on.
Steinmeier said that NATO had, for its part, taken note of this state of affairs. The Foreign Minister pointed out that Germany had been involved in efforts to implement the decisions reached at this year’s NATO summit in Warsaw since the outset, through reassurance measures such as reconnaissance flights to our participation in a rotating battalion in Lithuania, for which Germany shoulders special responsibility as a framework nation.
Deterrence and détente: maintaining dialogue
With the security situation in the Baltic Sea region in mind, it was important, Steinmeier added, to remember that deterrence and dialogue should always go hand in hand. It was therefore important to seek to maintain the dialogue with Russia, he said.
On the fringes of the press conference, Steinmeier also addressed the Turkish Foreign Minister’s allegations that Germany was supporting the Kurdish PKK. Steinmeier dismissed these claims, pointing out that the PKK was also forbidden in Germany. At the same time, he reiterated that the investigation of the attempted coup must proceed with respect for rule of law principles, criticising the arrests made in recent days.
The US elections
The Foreign Minister also gave a statement regarding the imminent US elections. He said that he thought that many Europeans and Americans were glad that this election campaign was drawing to a close. “However, the campaign also leaves behind a difficult legacy for the person who will bear responsibility as President in the future, as it leaves behind a divided country”, he stated. He added that it would be hard for Obama’s successor to bridge the rifts that had grown even wider between the political camps. The German Foreign Minister concluded that it would be a danger to democracy to conduct political arguments “in terms of animosities only, but which never pave the way to the compromises needed in a democracy”.