Since 5 December, talks led by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffith have been taking place in Johannesbergs Slott, a castle in the countryside near Stockholm, between the Yemeni Government and the Houthi rebels. Following the collapse of the last peace talks in Kuwait in 2016, these are the first talks in which both parties to the conflict are participating.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed the talks, which are focusing mainly on measures to build confidence between the parties to the conflict:
After far too many years of violent conflict, severe deprivation and completely entrenched positions, the current talks finally provide a first ray of hope for the people in Yemen.
Maas thanked Martin Griffith, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, for his success in bringing the parties to the conflict together. This created an opportunity to relaunch a political process, Maas said. The path to the talks was protracted. Until the start, it was unclear if the parties to the conflict would actually attend.
A ceasefire and humanitarian access
The talks in Sweden are focusing on fundamental issues aimed at paving the way to a political process. These include a ceasefire, the withdrawal of the parties to the conflict from the most disputed territories, humanitarian access and an exchange of prisoners.
Maas urged the parties to the conflict to be disciplined in their approach and called on the international community to support Martin Griffith’s efforts:
The past days have created hopes that cannot now be dashed. That is why we need to keep up the pressure on all sides to work on a peaceful settlement to the conflict. It is a humanitarian imperative that the suffering, hunger and deaths finally come to an end. A ceasefire must be established as soon as possible.
German support for the talks
Germany expressly supports the work of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, including through civil society dialogues between the Yemeni stakeholders. Following the successful start of the talks, the German Government stands ready to actively support the new peace process in cooperation with the United Nations. The German Ambassador to Yemen is attending the talks in Sweden.
Along with UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande, Germany has set up a fund to foster progress in the peace talks through concrete projects in Yemen. The German Government has already provided start-up funding of 2.5 million euros and has pledged a further 2 million euros for 2019.
It is providing significant humanitarian assistance in Yemen. A sum of 39 million euros has already been pledged for 2019. The German Government also supports stabilisation projects and plays a major role in development cooperation.