Foreign Minister Steinmeier met his Danish counterpart Anders Samuelsen, who was on his first official visit to Germany, at the Federal Foreign Office on Tuesday (13 December). Their talks focused on the situation in Syria. The agenda also included bilateral relations between Germany and Denmark and the future of the European Union.ßenminister Steinmeier hat Europäischen Union.
Germany and Denmark enjoy close relations. Berlin is home to over 3500 Danes, many of whom are artists, creative professionals or members of the start‑up scene. Danish culture is particularly prevalent in Germany during the festive season, when Danish fir trees adorn many German homes and gløgg is a popular drink at Nordic Christmas markets.
No military solution is possible in Syria
Although the two Foreign Ministers met during Advent, the topics on their agenda were unfortunately anything but peaceful. The focus was on Syria and in particular on the situation in Aleppo. During the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 12 December, the ministers received updates on the situation in Aleppo almost every hour and reports that further parts of the city had been captured by the Assad regime. The killing and dying were continuing in Aleppo, Steinmeier said, and the situation was deteriorating drastically.
The situation had become completely unbearable for the people living in the part of Aleppo that had not yet fallen to the regime, Steinmeier said. Water and food were running out and humanitarian aid was not available. Contrary to claims by Russia, it was not Russia and the Syrian regime that were providing humanitarian aid in the districts under the control of the regime, but rather the United Nations, the World Food Programme, the International Red Cross and other aid organisations. It was now important that those who had managed to flee from eastern Aleppo were not persecuted – people must be able to leave the “hell of eastern Aleppo”, Steinmeier said.
He remained convinced that the war in Syria could not be resolved by military means. Russia, he said, should not delude itself that the fall of Aleppo would bring the war to an end. On the contrary, Steinmeier underlined, the war would be continued with other means, that is, a combination of military confrontation and terrorist attacks, in other parts of the country. This meant that a lasting solution could only be achieved through political negotiations.
An exemplary approach to minorities
Steinmeier continued that German‑Danish relations were fortunately so friendly and familiar that there was no need to discuss problems. On the contrary, Germany and Denmark did not only enjoy excellent neighbourly relations, but also set a good example of how to deal with minorities as regards the German minority in Denmark and the Danish minority in Germany.
In Steinmeier’s opinion, these friendly relations should be intensified further, both at bilateral level and in joint formats such as the N3+1 format with Sweden and Finland.