A visitor from far afield in the German capital: Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed his Australian opposite number, Julie Bishop, to the Federal Foreign Office for talks on Wednesday (22 April).
In greeting Foreign Minister Bishop, Steinmeier said that Germany and Australia were connected by “shared values and ideas” as well as “genuine goodwill”. Bishop agreed that the two countries were joined in “strong friendship”. She cited the newly established Australia-Germany Advisory Group as a sign of the high quality of their relations. The group is intended to draw up proposals for further deepening the bilateral friendship in such fields as science, business, and cultural and social affairs by November of this year.
With reference to the positive experiences enjoyed by the more than 25,000 young Germans who visit Australia on the Working Holiday Programme per year, Steinmeier pledged to return Bishop’s visit and travel to Australia himself.
Shared values and genuine goodwill
The other topics under discussion included the two countries’ joint commitments in Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism in the form of ISIS. Refugee policy was also high on the agenda. Foreign Minister Steinmeier reported on the EU consultations held after the catastrophic refugee disaster in the Mediterranean last Sunday. He summarised the key points as reinforcing marine search and rescue, combating smuggling gangs, stabilising countries of origin and transit and making progress on distributing refugees within the European Union in accordance with principles of solidarity.
The two Foreign Ministers had begun their meeting with a look at some historical documents. The Head of the Political Archive showed them a number of pieces including the diplomatic letter which re-established diplomatic relations in 1952. Another item was related to Australia specialist Ludwig Leichhardt, one of the most renowned Germans in Australia’s history.