Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier met with Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlăţean at the Federal Foreign Office on 20 March. Their talks focused on bilateral relations between Romania and Germany, the free movement of workers in the EU, and the current situation in Ukraine.
At the joint press conference with Corlăţean, Steinmeier started out by stating: “When I think of Romania, I think of the final day of the year 2006”. Steinmeier said that he was in Bucharest that day, and not only did he witness the Romanian people’s enthusiasm on the eve of their accession to the EU, he felt it too. Steinmeier added:
There was a spirit on the streets that day that we have lost somewhat in recent days and years due to the crisis in Europe. I wish that Europe could recover some of this spirit of optimism that I saw and felt back then in Bucharest on New Year’s Eve in 2006.
Excellent bilateral relations
The German Foreign Minister described bilateral relations between Romania and Germany as “not just good, but excellent”. Among other things, he underscored the strong economic and cultural ties between both countries: Germany is Romania’s top trading partner and is a leading investor in Romania. Bilateral cultural relations are close as well. Steinmeier also praised the trusting and “truly exemplary” relations between the Romanian Government and the German minority in Romania, which numbers nearly 40,000.
Commitment to the free movement of workers
Both Ministers reaffirmed that the contentious debate that took place at the start of 2014 regarding the free movement of workers in the EU had actually had a positive influence on bilateral relations, because it had led to open discussions on challenges and potential solutions in this area. Should there be cases in which this policy is abused, they added, these would have to be looked into. They emphasised that, like all EU member states, Germanyand Romaniaare firmly committed to the principle of the free movement of workers.
Ukraine: The most dangerous European conflict in the past 25 years
In light of recent developments, the two Ministers of course also discussed the crisis in Ukraine, which Steinmeier characterised as “one of the most dangerous conflicts to confront Europe in the past 25 years”. He stated that attempts so far to de‑escalate the situation had unfortunately not achieved success, and that there was still no consensus regarding the formulation of a mandate for an OSCE monitoring mission.
The Romanian Foreign Minister emphasised that the situation in Ukraine is “deeply worrying”. He stated that the alteration of national borders on the basis of military actions cannot be accepted, adding that national sovereignty is a principle under international law that must be respected by everyone.