Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has welcomed his Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, to discussions in Berlin. Their meeting focused on bilateral issues and particularly on the future development of the EU and such international topics as the situation in Ukraine and Syria.
It was early in the morning when Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed his Dutch visitor to the Federal Foreign Office. The two Foreign Ministers greeted each other warmly, Steinmeier and Timmermans having known each other since the German Foreign Minister’s first term in office. Today, early in his second term in office, they met for a first working meeting in Berlin.
Next to German-Dutch questions, the agenda mainly concentrated on European and international issues. During the press conference which followed, Steinmeier and Timmermans agreed that the bilateral relationship between the two countries was marked by very close cooperation. Foreign Minister Steinmeier stressed that he was particularly delighted with the fact that the Netherlands would be this year’s partner country at the Hannover Messe.
Enhancing European integration
The two Ministers also addressed cooperation within the EU and emphasised their commitment to enhancing European integration. Ministers Steinmeier and Timmermans said they shared the hope that the economic crisis in Europe could now be overcome.
However, it was not certain whether we would also overcome the political crisis, Steinmeier pointed out. Timmermans agreed with his German colleague and added that, although European integration was very successful, “we do not celebrate Europe sufficiently”.
Ukraine: sending a signal to the opposition that paves the way for further talks
The demonstrations in Ukraine have spread in recent days. All eyes are on Tuesday’s emergency session of the Ukrainian parliament to discuss the crisis in the Eastern European country.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier gave the following statement on reports concerning the possible resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Asarov: “The Prime Minister’s resignation could enable a search for political compromise.” He went on to say that he hoped “that by way of the Prime Minister’s resignation the leading politicians in Ukraine would be sending a signal to the opposition that paves the way for further talks.”
Conference on Syria: start of talks
It is now nearly three years since the conflict and bloodshed in Syria began. The conference on Syria is currently being held in Geneva, under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to search for a political solution. Thanks to mediation efforts by UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, it has been possible to hold the first talks between representatives of the Assad regime and representatives of the Syrian opposition.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier declared that it was already a success to have both delegations sitting in one room looking for ways to help the suffering civilian population. He went on to say that “this is not much. But it has the potential to be the beginning of lasting talks, and that is why this first step is so important.”