The Brexit, Syria and Turkey – London and Berlin have much to discuss. That is why Foreign Minister Steinmeier today (4 November) received his British counterpart Boris Johnson at the Federal Foreign Office.
As Frank‑Walter Steinmeier and his guest step before the press, the photographers’ cameras won’t stop flashing. There are many reasons why the British counterpart’s first official visit is drawing such great attention. After the Brexit vote, the relationship between the UK and the EU must be placed on a new foundation. Moreover, Great Britain is an important global foreign policy player. Ukraine, Syria and current developments in Turkey – the many crises make it absolutely necessary to closely coordinate, and jointly plan, foreign policy.
The Brexit must not become a period of uncertainty
In Great Britain, Johnson had argued in favour of leaving the European Union. “I have to admit I was not too excited about that,” Steinmeier said. He went on to say that Germany now urges the UK to submit its formal request for withdrawal as soon as possible, so that the relationship between the UK and the EU can be placed on a new foundation. The British Government must now state its official position, he insisted. He also made clear that advantages such as access to the internal market cannot be obtained without giving something in return. Steinmeier’s British colleague Johnson said he was optimistic there will be no further delays on the road to withdrawal negotiations.
A partner in tackling global crises
Steinmeier and Johnson were in agreement that, beyond the issue of the Brexit, Germany and Great Britain have a lot on their plate. Just beyond the European continent and the British Islands, more and more conflicts are breaking out. “We hope and we trust that Great Britain will remain a close partner in efforts to tackle crises and conflicts,” Steinmeier said. During their talks, the two Foreign Ministers intensively discussed ideas and concepts for arriving at a negotiated solution to the bloody war in Syria. The focus was on how humanitarian assistance for the civilian population can be improved.
Ministers share the same view on developments in Turkey
The two Foreign Ministers also discussed current developments in Turkey. The British Government, too, is worried about the situation of the media and political parties there, Johnson said. Steinmeier stated that “the fight against terrorism must not be used to justify silencing, or even imprisoning, the political opposition”. The Foreign Minister went on to make clear that the political leadership in Turkey must think about the road down which it wishes to lead the country, and what consequences this will have for relations with Europe.