Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met his counterparts from the other EU countries in Brussels today to discuss several pressing areas of conflict in international affairs. They talked about the conflict in Ukraine, the nuclear deal with Iran and the brutal war in Yemen. The tensions between Serbia and Kosovo were also on the agenda.
The foreign minister issued the following statement on arriving in Brussels:
The nuclear agreement with Iran is important for security in Europe. We want to ensure that payment channels remain open so that economic activity can continue in Iran. On issues like Iran’s conduct in Syria, the missile programme and human rights, we need to talk to Iran – and exert pressure if need be.
The activities of Iran’s intelligence services in Europe were another subject which needed to be addressed, Maas added. These developments, he said, were unacceptable and their continuation would not be tolerated.
Yemen is facing a humanitarian catastrophe and a major famine. Talks about the conflict are currently under way in Sweden and proving difficult. Maas underlined Germany’s readiness to play a significant role: “I told UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths yesterday that Germany was prepared, both politically and in practical terms, to do its bit in the event of an opportunity to resolve the Yemen conflict via a political process.”
Ukraine and Russia
With respect to the difficult situation in Ukraine, the German foreign minister is working at all levels to de-escalate the conflict. He called for the Kerch Strait to be kept open permanently and for the Ukrainian sailors to be released without delay. The Foreign Affairs Council, he reported, had included talks with the Ukrainian foreign minister on how the situation can be calmed. Also visiting Brussels today, Klimkin briefed his counterparts on the current situation.
The tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, also on the agenda for today’s Council, are a cause for concern. Germany called on both countries to engage in rational discussion and de-escalate the situation. Punitive Kosovar tariffs against Serbia should be lifted, in Germany’s view, and the disputed redrawing of borders is a further obstacle to dialogue. What is needed is a sustainable reconciliation process and a readiness on both sides to talk to one another.