Cooperation with the Baltic states is important, particularly in connection with the EU’s and NATO’s relationship vis‑à‑vis Russia. Foreign Minister Steinmeier met his Estonian colleague, Jürgen Ligi, at the Federal Foreign Office today (2 November).
Since gaining its independence 25 years ago, Estonia has worked its way forwards at a terrific pace, registering strong economic growth and playing a pioneering role in digitisation in Europe. Its relations with Germany have developed equally dynamically. Today, Germany and Estonia are “indispensable partners and reliable friends,” said Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
The partnership is especially important with regard to the EU’s relations with Russia. Since the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine, many in the Baltic states are again fearful for their countries’ security and independence. “We in Germany understand all too well that people in the Baltic states are very sensitive about the changes in the security situation in Europe,” Steinmeier said. So Germany and its European partners are committed to ensuring the security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Security through cohesion
The Bundeswehr is helping to monitor the Baltic states’ airspace, and as a NATO framework nation Germany will be sending soldiers to be stationed in Lithuania. Above all, however, Germany is committed to sustainable security through social cohesion. Since last year, the Federal Foreign Office has been supporting projects to promote the integration and participation of the Russian-speaking minority in the country, such as the development of independent Russian-language media, encounters for young people and workshops for representatives of civil society.
Solidarity works both ways
Current developments in Ukraine show that the European partners’ solidarity will remain important. “There is no reason to be pleased,” said Steinmeier about the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Nevertheless, Steinmeier and his Estonian counterpart Ligi agreed that as long as the parties to the conflict accept the agreement as a basis for a settlement, every possible effort must be made to ensure that it is implemented in full.
The German-Baltic partnership plays an important role in this context. “We very much welcome Germany’s contribution at international level,” Ligi said. Estonia is experiencing solidarity from the European Union, and in turn it will be taking on responsibility for the EU, assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017.