Germany’s foreign minister attended the NATO spring meeting in Antalya, Turkey, on Wednesday and Thursday (13 and 14 May). During the talks, the 28 NATO foreign ministers and their partners focused on the Ukraine conflict, the southern neighbourhood and cooperation with the EU.
This was the first meeting of NATO partners to take place outside Brussels since 2011. At the invitation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his counterparts from the NATO member states met in Antalya in south‑east Turkey on 13 and 14 May for the NATO spring talks.
Focus on the Ukraine crisis
The talks focused on the Ukraine conflict and relations between NATO member states and Russia – topics that were also discussed during a meeting of the NATO‑Ukraine Commission on Wednesday. The foreign ministers reiterated the need to implement the Minsk Protocol and reaffirmed their solidarity with Ukraine. Foreign Minister Steinmeier underlined that there was consensus that the Minsk Protocol remained the “basis and guiding force of our actions” and described the establishment of the Contact Group’s working groups as a step forward. It was important that socio‑economic projects in particular rapidly generate “tangible benefits” for the people in eastern Ukraine, he said. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin also attended the NATO meetings. Steinmeier and his Ukrainian counterpart met in private during the evening.
Germany’s foreign minister also made use of the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings on the margins of the talks among the 28 NATO members. Among others, he met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who hosted the NATO meeting. On arrival in Antalya, Steinmeier held meetings with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati and Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki.
Strengthening NATO‑EU cooperation
During the second day of the meeting, the North Atlantic Council discussed security policy challenges in the east and south of the Alliance. This included discussion on the situation in Libya and on dealing with terrorist threats such as ISIS. The ministers also discussed the Ukraine conflict, future relations with Russia and hybrid warfare. Foreign Minister Steinmeier underlined that the NATO partners also planned to continue this debate with a view to the next NATO summit in Warsaw in 2016. With regard to the resolutions adopted at the last NATO summit in Wales in autumn 2014, there was discussion on adapting the defence alliance to the changed international security situation and on the state of implementation.
The North Atlantic Council talks also addressed the issue of enhanced cooperation between NATO and the European Union. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, attended this session. Prior to this, Steinmeier held bilateral talks with Mogherini. During the afternoon, he said that the discussion between NATO and the EU would be continued as early as next Monday at the forthcoming EU Foreign Affairs Council.