On Tuesday (4 April), Foreign Minister Gabriel travelled to London for the first time since assuming office, where he met his opposite number Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis. As well as Brexit, the talks with Boris Johnson also focused on Syria: Germany and the United Kingdom want to continue to cooperate closely in future to find a solution to the conflict.
Brexit: good will, honest communication and willingness to compromise needed
Just a few days after London officially declared its intention to leave the EU, Foreign Minister Gabriel set off on his first visit to the United Kingdom since assuming office. Although Brexit is the dominant theme in relations between the United Kingdom and the EU, its consequences were not the main focus of his trip. Foreign Minister Gabriel stressed after talks with his opposite number Boris Johnson that negotiations on future bilateral relations could only begin when the conditions for withdrawal had been more or less clarified.
What is already clear is that, as Gabriel said, although things will be more difficult initially, the common goal is to work as closely and effectively as possible with the United Kingdom in the long term. This is particularly important on the international stage. Gabriel emphasised that international security, for example, could only be guaranteed by working together. He said that cooperation with the United Kingdom was crucial with regard to Russia and Turkey as well as North Africa.
Syria: Close cooperation between Germany and the United Kingdom
Another example of security cooperation is Syria. Gabriel said that Germany and Britain agreed that new momentum had to be injected into the political process. Together with the United States and France, the two countries intend to work to move the peace negotiations forward.
An important step towards improving the situation in Syria is the second international Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region, due to take place in Brussels on Wednesday. The first conference was held in London last year. In Brussels, too, Britain and Germany want to help generate more humanitarian assistance for Syria.
Cultural relations and meeting with David Davis
After his talks with Boris Johnson, Gabriel’s programme included a meeting with David Davis, British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Cultural relations between Germany and the United Kingdom also played an important role during the visit. The British Museum and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) are organising a joint programme of events in London and Dresden entitled “London Arts Festival: Europe and the World”. Gabriel met representatives of both museums to discuss this project.