This year’s 3+1 Consultations between the Baltic States and Germany were held in Tallinn on 16 and 17 June at the invitation of the Estonian Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet. These meetings have been taking place since 1994. The crisis in Ukraine cast its shadow over this year’s talks.
Following his visit to the Baltic capitals in March 2014, Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier travelled once again to the Baltic metropolis Tallinn. On this occasion, too, the Ukraine crisis was a central focus of the discussions between Germany and the Baltic states. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet had invited Steinmeier and his counterparts from the other two Baltic states, Edgars Rinkēvičs (Latvia) and Linas Antanas Linkevičius (Lithuania), to Estonia for the annual 3+1 Consultations.
20th anniversary of the 3+1 Consultations
At the joint press conference in the morning (17 June), Foreign Minister Steinmeier praised the courage and commitment to reform shown by the three Baltic partners, saying they had succeeded in “safeguarding their economies during difficult times and setting a sustainable course for the future”. Touching on the 20th anniversary of this format for foreign policy consultations, Steinmeier expressed his admiration for the achievements and development that had been seen over that time. It was unlikely, he said, that anyone back in 1994 would have dreamed that Latvia would currently be getting ready to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union, or that all three Baltic states and Germany would probably share a common currency as of 2015.
Ukraine: setback in efforts to defuse the crisis
The talks in Tallinn focused on the Ukraine crisis. Yesterday (16 June) negotiations between Russia and Ukraine on gas prices broke down. On 14 June a Ukrainian military aircraft was shot down near Lugansk in the east of the country, killing many. Steinmeier called these recent developments a “real setback” in efforts to defuse the crisis: “It is even more crucial than ever that the European Union demonstrate solidarity in its response. And that is exactly what we have done,” the Minister continued. Taking a united stance, Steinmeier went on, had enabled the EU again and again to step up the pressure on Russia.
Importance of solidarity within the EU and NATO
Foreign Minister Steinmeier previously visited the three Baltic capitals briefly in March. During his talks then, he assured his Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian partners that the German Government understood and took seriously these countries’ concerns regarding political developments in the crisis in Crimea.At the 3+1 Consultations Steinmeier again referred to the Baltic states’ special position. He emphasised that Germany was committed to solidarity in the Alliance and that it was vital to demonstrate solidarity within the EU and NATO. That was why it had been important to him to coordinate closely once again with the Baltic partners prior to the upcoming Foreign Ministers Meetings of the two organisations.