A united Europe is top of the agenda on this trip. Prior to his departure on Monday (17 September), Foreign Minister Maas stated:
Europe cannot be divided up into geographical regions – for us, there is only one Europe.
Bucharest: Participation in the Three Seas Initiative Summit (17 – 18 September)
In Bucharest, Maas will be a guest for the first time at the Three Seas Initiative Summit, where he will represent President Steinmeier. At the invitation of Romania’s President Johannis, twelve Eastern European EU states will be discussing key economic and energy issues for the region at the highest level. Alongside the German Foreign Minister, European Commission President Juncker and US Energy Secretary Perry will also take part as guests.
Furthermore, Maas will be having talks with Nicolae Liviu Dragnea, President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, representatives of civil society as well as representatives of the German minority. Following his speech to the Romanian Ambassadors Conference on 27 August , this is Maas’ second visit to the Romanian capital. Romania will be taking over the EU Council Presidency on 1 January 2019.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Political talks in the run up to the referendum on the country’s name (18 September)
In Skopje, Maas will meet, along others, Prime Minister Zaev, Foreign Minister Dimitrov and representatives of civil society. Germany continues to support the European perspective of the Western Balkans. The visit is taking place less than two weeks before the planned referendum on the agreement with Greece on resolving the issue of the country’s name. A successful referendum would be a key milestone for the country and would facilitate its future accession to the EU and NATO. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been an EU candidate country since 2005.
Albania: Political talks (19 September)
In Tirana, Foreign Minister Maas will be meeting Prime Minister Rama, Foreign Minister Bushati, representatives of the Vetting Commission and opposition leader Basha. Among other things, the reform process in Albania and the country’s prospects of joining the EU will be discussed. Albania has been an EU accession candidate since 2014.
Greece: European policy and bilateral issues (20 September)
His programme in Athens will include talks with President Pavlopoulos, Foreign Minister Kotzias and opposition leader Mitsotakis. The third assistance programme for Greece ended on 20 August. The talks will therefore focus on what happens next – from further reforms to European issues.
Maas said the following before his departure on 17 September:
Now that the third assistance programme has ended, Greece is facing crucial questions – from the further reform process to our cooperation in the EU. Greece’s journey is also an example of resolute European solidarity – out of conviction and for the benefit of all Europeans. We want to continue further along this path.