Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s visit to Latin America first took him to Brazil. He met several people in the capital, Brasília, including President Dilma Rousseff and Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira.
The talks on a ceasefire for eastern Ukraine had gone on much longer than planned, meaning Foreign Minister Steinmeier had had to postpone his departure for Latin America several times in the course of the difficult negotiations. Then, on Thursday afternoon (12 February), Steinmeier headed for Latin America immediately after his return from Minsk. This is already the second time the Foreign Minister has visited the continent, following on from his trip to Mexico in 2014. Steinmeier said he was keen not to neglect Germany’s important ties to Latin America.
In Brasília on Friday morning, Steinmeier first met for talks with President Rousseff. One of the topics of their intensive discussion in the official presidential residence was the situation in Europe. The focus was chiefly on the crisis in Ukraine and the agreements reached in Minsk the previous day. Europe’s economic situation was also on the agenda, but so too was Latin America, primarily the difficult state of affairs in Venezuela and the most recent developments in Cuba.
A further focus was on bilateral relations, with both sides praising the good state of German-Brazilian relations. They also announced their first bilateral intergovernmental consultations, which are to be held in Brazil in mid-August.
New: a working holiday programme and intergovernmental consultations
Steinmeier’s subsequent meeting with Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira was also geared towards boosting the network of German-Brazilian ties. Vieira welcomed Steinmeier to Itamaraty Palace, the Ministry of External Affairs built in the heart of Brasília by Oscar Niemeyer. Steinmeier is the first foreign counterpart to be hosted by Vieira since the latter was appointed as Brazilian Foreign Minister just over a month ago. Another première was the agreement on a German-Brazilian working holiday programme, which the two ministers signed on the margins of their meeting. The intention behind this is apparently to respond to the increased levels of interest shown by young people by making it easier for them to spend some time working in the other country. Foreign Minister Steinmeier described the agreement as “a real step forwards”.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier was accompanied on his Latin America trip by a delegation of big names from business and cultural affairs as well as Bundestag Members from all parties. The various members of the delegation enjoyed parallel itineraries while in Brasília. Foreign Minister Steinmeier furthermore met the Brazilian Planning Minister, Nelson Barbosa, for talks in the company of several German and Brazilian businesspeople.
Common values shared with Latin America
Foreign Minister Steinmeier had issued the following statement before embarking on his trip to Brazil, Peru and Colombia: “Germany sees Latin America as a partner region with great potential. Our partnership is based on shared values and cultural ties. We want to work together to shape globalisation in a responsible way.”
Steinmeier also said that he wanted to use his talks there to “align the German and European view with Latin America’s perspective”. The focus, he said, was on where the two sides could work even more intensively and effectively together. He named international crises from Ukraine to Nigeria as well as developments in Latin America as possible areas for greater cooperation. The German Foreign Minister also reaffirmed that global challenges, such as developing ambitious measures to protect the climate and the environment, can only be tackled effectively if we work together.
Steinmeier continued: “Last but not least, I intend to listen to what is currently high on the agenda for my three hosts. In Colombia, this will include the hope that, after 50 years of internal conflict, 2015 turns out to be a year of peace.”