On Wednesday (15 April), the G7 Foreign Ministers ended their spring meeting under Germany’s Presidency. In the north German Hanseatic City of Lübeck, they discussed current foreign policy challenges and conflicts.
At the close of the two-day consultations among the G7 Foreign Ministers, the host Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the outcomes of the meeting. He started by expressing his sincere thanks, and those of all the other participants, to the people of Lübeck for their hospitality. He also thanked the organisers and security personnel.
He stated that the Hanseatic City of Lübeck had been “the right choice” for this Foreign Ministers Meeting. He went on to say that the city adhered to a “tradition based on the simple idea that exchange and trade beyond existing borders is beneficial”.
Initiatives of Germany’s G7 Presidency
At his press conference, the German Foreign Minister addressed a series of initiatives adopted at this G7 meeting under Germany’s Presidency: these included a joint final declaration, the Lübeck Communiqué, the Lübeck Declaration on Maritime Security, a joint agenda on preventing crises and enhancing security in Africa (Beyond Ebola), as well as a statement on non-proliferation and disarmament. This was the first time that maritime security was on the G7 agenda. (Links to all declarations can be found at the end of this article.)
Ukraine conflict and relations with Russia
The consultations in Lübeck, which Foreign Minister Steinmeier called “a rare opportunity to exchange views in confidence”, focused on current international crises. Together with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, Steinmeier briefed his colleagues on the latest developments in the Ukraine conflict following the recent 'Normandy' Format meeting in Berlin (13 April).
He said that the chance to implement the Minsk Protocol had to be maintained in this “fragile situation”. Moreover, he continued, this was the key to Russia’s return to the group. It was by no means the intention of the G7 to isolate Russia, Steinmeier stressed.
But nothing has changed: the way back will require the implementation of the Minsk Protocol and the settlement of the Ukraine conflict.
Crises in the Middle East
Other key points discussed during the consultations in Lübeck included a series of crises in the Middle East: the fight against ISIS, the situation in Iraq and in Syria, the conditions in Libya, which are tantamount to civil war, as well as the conflict in Yemen, which has flared up again. With regard to Yemen, Steinmeier stated that the G7 had agreed that it was crucial to move back “as quickly as possible” towards a “political solution to the problem”. Steinmeier said that he could not see a military solution.
Against this background, Steinmeier said that the adoption the previous evening by the UN Security Council of a resolution banning arms supplies to the Houthis, one of the driving forces behind this conflict, was extremely welcome: “I want to point out that this was partly possible thanks to the clearly constructive stand of China and Russia.”
Negotiations with Iran
The meeting in Lübeck also focused on the latest negotiations with Iran. Secretary of State Kerry outlined the current state of affairs as well as the outcome of the negotiations in Lausanne. The goal remained “an Iran without nuclear weapons”, stressed Foreign Minister Steinmeier, who also described the agreement with Iran as an incentive to “find solutions to other conflicts.” The negotiations on the final agreement are due to begin next week. Steinmeier stated that he was meanwhile “somewhat surprised” by the announcement that Russia is to supply weapons to Iran.
On Tuesday evening, the G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative exchanged views on Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism and non-proliferation. The impact of climate change on the stability of states was also discussed.
Signal of unity from Lübeck
The second and concluding day of the meeting began for the G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative with a short boat trip to the conference venue, the new European Hansemuseum. In the morning, the German Foreign Minister stated that the “beautiful weather” cast a “favourable light” on the discussions. Unfortunately, however, he went on to say, the weather did not reflect the “political climate”.
However, Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed his satisfaction at the end of the meeting:
This G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Lübeck has sent a truly strong signal of unity. Not only do we stand together, but we are also working closely together to settle crises and conflicts.
Some quests for solutions to conflicts, for example in Syria, were taking “too long”, but there was no alternative to “continuing to search for solutions despite delays, disappointments and setbacks”.
Final declarations adopted by the Foreign Ministers
- G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Communiqué, Lübeck, 15 April 2015
- G7 Foreign Ministers’ Declaration on Maritime Security in Lübeck, 15 April 2015
- “Beyond Ebola: a G7 agenda to help prevent future crises and enhance security in Africa” Lübeck, 15 April 2015
- G7 Statement on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Lübeck, 15 April 2015