More than just a language: Foreign Minister Baerbock in Salzburg for a meeting of German-speaking Foreign Ministers

Foreign Minister Baerbock and her four counterparts against the picturesque backdrop of Salzburg

Foreign Minister Baerbock and her four counterparts against the picturesque backdrop of Salzburg, © Photothek / Thomas Trutschel

27.04.2023 - Article

Once a year, the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Switzerland come together for an exchange of views. Read on to learn more about what’s being discussed today in Salzburg.

Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland are home to a good 100 million people in the heart of Europe, most of whom are German speakers. These five countries form a tight-knit cultural and economic area. For many people, crossing national borders is a normal part of going shopping, getting to work or visiting friends and family. Thanks to the Schengen area, individuals crossing the borders between all five countries only have their documents checked in exceptional situations. The countries also enjoy close political links through various institutions. The meeting in Salzburg thus brings together three EU countries, two NATO members, two EFTA states and one member of the European Economic Area (EEA). All five states are part of a common trade area.

There’s a lot on the agenda for today’s meeting. More than a year after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the focus is on Europe’s fundamentally altered geopolitical position in the world. The Foreign Ministers will talk about further civilian and financial assistance for Ukraine, as well as military support. The implementation of the sanctions imposed on Russia following its attack on Ukraine, and their enforcement at national level, will be a key topic of discussion. The prime issue is how to prevent evasion in all five countries. The Foreign Ministers will also discuss questions relating to accountability for and the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.

Migration issues and EU enlargement policy will likewise be addressed by the Ministers. The future relationship between the EU and Switzerland is also a topic for discussion. Following the failure of the negotiations on an institutional framework agreement due to the Swiss “no” in 2021, the Foreign Ministers will exchange views on the current status of the talks between Berne and Brussels.


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