Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his new Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallström, in Berlin on Wednesday (5 November). Their discussion focused on the fight against ISIS, the Middle East peace process and the conflict in Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallström to Berlin on 5 November by congratulating her on taking office a good four weeks ago. Given the fact that the two countries were good friends, they had not spent much of their discussion talking about bilateral topics, reported Steinmeier in the subsequent press conference.
Good friendship and foreign policy on a similar course
Rather, their priority had been the current crises: the situation in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by ISIS, as well as the conflict in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East. Although Sweden was “clearly on another track to Germany” in its recognition of Palestine as a state, according to Steinmeier, the two Foreign Ministers fully agreed on the assessment that: “We know that the only way forward now is to engage in negotiations in an even more dedicated manner.” Ultimately, only a two‑state solution would bring peace to the Middle East, stressed Steinmeier.
Commenting on the fight against ISIS, Steinmeier highlighted Germany and Sweden’s common position that the terrorists “must be stopped”. With regard to the conflict in Syria, the German Foreign Minister made it clear that focusing on military means alone would not resolve the conflict – what was needed was a political approach. Therefore, he went on to say that new UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura had his full support for his efforts and that, at the Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation held in the Federal Foreign Office on 28 October, Mistura had offered “some astute input”.
In addition to this, both Foreign Ministers addressed the situation in Ukraine, primarily the illegitimate ’elections’ in the east of the country, held by the separatists in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk on Sunday 2 November. Steinmeier warned of the risk of “reverting to a state of affairs which we thought we had overcome”. The situation was escalating and the rhetoric used by all sides was harshening, the German Foreign Minister continued. He called on both sides to adhere to the agreements outlined in the Minsk Protocol, stressing that this was the only way to ease the situation.