Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier travelled to Poland on 3 April: at the invitation of his Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna, Steinmeier and his French opposite number Laurent Fabius were in Wrocław for a trilateral meeting of the Weimar Triangle.
The German Foreign Minister’s week started off with the tough negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme: Steinmeier had only returned the previous evening (2 April) from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the E3+3 negotiated the key parameters for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. On the morning of 3 April, Foreign Minister Steinmeier set off for neighbouring Poland: his Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna had invited the French and German Foreign Ministers to Wrocław for political consultations within the framework of the Weimar Triangle.
In the morning, the three Foreign Ministers came together in the Centennial Hall in the heart of the trade fair exhibition area in Wrocław. The venue was special: thanks to its dome, 67 metres in diameter, this early 20th century building is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Close coordination in the “chorus of European voices”
At a joint press conference, Steinmeier thanked his Polish colleague for resuming the work of the Weimar Triangle following the successful previous meetings in Paris and Weimar. At a time when many crises were unresolved and Europe had to agree on a shared standpoint, he went on to say, the Weimar Triangle had to cooperate closely in order to make itself heard in the “chorus of European voices”.
Steinmeier and Fabius briefed their Polish colleague on the E3+3 negotiations with Iran, which had ended the previous evening in Lausanne with an accord on the key parameters to be included in an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. The German Foreign Minister stressed that the hard struggle to reach agreement had been worthwhile. At the same time, however, he said that it was “too early to break out the Champagne”:
Anyone who has been involved in negotiations knows that there is no guarantee that they will lead to success. Our hope now is that Iran will adhere to the key parameters agreed on yesterday.
Ukraine: A certain calming of the situation
Perhaps, Steinmeier commented, the negotiations with Iran also showed that it was possible to approach other conflicts with perseverance and in the knowledge of how vital diplomatic solutions are. That also applied to the situation in Ukraine. The Minsk Protocol was not perfect, he went on to say, but it formed a basis on which a de-escalation of the conflict could be brought about. “The implementation of the Minsk Protocol is still progressing too slowly. However, the situation has now calmed down to a certain degree,” stressed the German Foreign Minister.
All in all, he continued, there had been agreement that the global situation and the situation in Europe during the last few years had not become any easier. As a consequence, “we have to rethink the conditions for security in Europe”. The three Foreign Ministers had set out their joint views on this in a letter to EU High Representative Mogherini.
Providing impetus for Europe
The German Foreign Minister also regards the close Franco-German-Polish cooperation as an essential element of coordination in Europe and among neighbours. Following the successful trilateral Foreign Ministers’ meetings in Weimar (31 March/1 April 2014) and in Paris (24 October 2014), the three Foreign Ministers continued their talks in Wrocław at the invitation of Poland.
The meeting of the three Foreign Ministers centred on the situation in Ukraine and relations with Russia. Furthermore, the three Ministers exchanged views on the European Neighbourhood Policy with eastern partners, the further development of which is to be the focus of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga in May. Another issue addressed was the partnership with the EU’s southern neighbours. In the Weimar Triangle format, Steinmeier, Schetyna and Fabius also discussed the strengthening and further development of the Common European Security and Defence Policy.