This is the 26th time that the Foreign Ministers of the Baltic states and Germany are meeting to coordinate their foreign policy both in the European Union and beyond. Following the last meeting in Hamburg in 2019, Estonia is hosting the gathering this year.
Prior to his departure, Foreign Minister Maas said:
Together with my three Baltic counterparts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, I will talk today about our wide-ranging common foreign policy agenda and the priorities of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The fact that negotiations are continuing in Brussels today is important. It shows that everyone wants to achieve a solution rather than defer the problem. However, it also shows that enormous efforts are required when working together for Europe’s recovery. The COVID‑19 pandemic has shaken us all to the core. A response that has a swift impact and leaves no one in the EU behind is all the more important right now. Solidarity between all countries will pay dividends for everyone.
Europe’s message carries the most weight around the world if we all speak with one voice. This is important not only in the coronavirus crisis, but also with a view to Europe’s neighbourhood and is in our immediate strategic interests. We therefore want to talk today about the EU’s relationship with Russia and Turkey and explore how we can support the countries of the Eastern Partnership in an even more targeted manner on the path of reform.
Fighting coronavirus together
Germany and the three Baltic countries have worked closely together during the coronavirus crisis. The focus is now on mitigating the economic and social impact of the pandemic together. This is Germany’s aim for its Council Presidency. Foreign Minister Maas will present the Council Presidency programme to his Baltic partners. In this context, the Foreign Ministers will also speak about the next steps as regards recovery support and the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework, which EU Heads of State and Government discussed in Brussels at the weekend.
Also on the agenda: transatlantic relations, Russia and Turkey
The three Baltic countries are neighbours of Russia. At the same time, they have traditionally been close partners of the United States. The future of transatlantic relations and the EU’s relationship with Russia will thus also be important topics on the meeting agenda. Furthermore, the Foreign Ministers want to discuss cooperation with Turkey and the EU’s Eastern Partnership.
Cooperation with Estonia in the UN Security Council
After the meeting between the four Foreign Ministers, Heiko Maas and his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu will make use of the opportunity to hold bilateral talks. Germany and Estonia have traditionally enjoyed very good and wide-ranging relations, as shown clearly once again by the visit by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid to celebrate the centenary of the Estonian Embassy in Berlin. President Kaljulaid was the first international visitor to be received by Federal President Frank‑Walter Steinmeier since the start of the corona crisis.
Like Germany, Estonia currently holds a non‑permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In view of the many crises, particularly in the Near and Middle East, but also in Ukraine for example, European cooperation in this body is crucial. Germany and Estonia want to continue liaising closely here in the future and to lend further weight to Europe’s voice in the Security Council, including after the end of Germany’s membership.