An atmosphere of trust and plain speaking characterised today’s N3+1 meeting in Helsinki, at which Foreign Minister Maas met Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, host Foreign Minister Timo Soini of Finland, and State Secretary Jonas Bering Liisberg from the Danish Foreign Ministry. The three “Nordics” and Germany have been gathering in this format since 2014. The previous meeting took place in Berlin in 2016. With a view to working successfully even with difficult partners to find solutions, the group today focused on policy towards China, Russia and the US. Conclusion: Europe will get furthest by working together.
China’s global ambitions demand a political response. Heiko Maas said at the meeting:
We must take a united approach in dealing with China, both when it comes to cooperation and when tackling differences, for instance on issues relating to ideas about competition and human rights.
Foreign Minister Maas and the Nordics stressed that, in terms of relations between Russia and Ukraine, it was important to address violations of the rules clearly and to strengthen the EU’s resilience. At the same time, dialogue is absolutely crucial, particularly within a complicated relationship with a major European neighbour: “Drawing clear lines and at the same time offering cooperation,” as Maas put it in Helsinki.
The United States is the main partner outside Europe, and the transatlantic partnership remains indispensable. Even if discussions were difficult just now, Maas said, there was much more that unites us than divides us. In Helsinki, the German Foreign Minister therefore advocated that we do more than just argue with the US: rather, we should work to push forward the positive agenda in areas where our common interests are great. These include WTO reform or a joint stance towards China. The Nordics and Germany agreed to do their utmost to continue to establish common positions, not least with the US.