On Monday (23 March), Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier took part in a meeting of the Visegrad group in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The consultations focused on the Ukraine conflict and European issues. Steinmeier also met separately with the host of the Foreign Ministers meeting, his Slovak opposite number Miroslav Lajčák, to discuss bilateral relations between Germany and the Slovak Republic.
In the Slovak capital on Monday afternoon (23 March), Foreign Minister Steinmeier met three of his counterparts and a Minister for Europe in Bratislava: the Foreign Ministers of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary as well as Poland’s Secretary of State for European Affairs. These four central European countries form what is called the Visegrad group. The Ministers’ talks focused primarily on the Ukraine conflict, the EU’s Eastern Partnership and the situation in the euro area.
Ukraine: working together to find a diplomatic solution
Following the consultations, Steinmeier said that the Visegrad group had proved its worth as a platform for intensive consultations. He underlined that there was a regular exchange of views, particularly with regard to the conflict in Ukraine. Germany, the Minister added, wanted to be regarded as a reliable and trustworthy partner by its eastern European neighbours. The Foreign Minister continued:
In our talks we agreed that the conflict in Ukraine cannot be resolved by military means. Therefore we have to work together to find a diplomatic solution.
The Political Directors from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany would thus meet again in Paris on 25 March to discuss the further implementation of the Minsk Protocol, Steinmeier explained.
Germany and Slovakia: “Excellent bilateral relations”
In the morning, Steinmeier first met his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajčák for bilateral talks. In the subsequent press conference, Steinmeier emphasised that Germany and Slovakia enjoyed excellent bilateral relations based, among other things, on close economic cooperation. Moreover the two countries shared the same view of the major challenges currently facing Europe.
The two Foreign Ministers’ talks also focused on the crisis in Greece. Steinmeier underlined that Germany had a fundamental interest in keeping Greece in the eurozone. However, Greece’s financial troubles were not a bilateral issue between Greece and Germany. Greece had to honour its obligations vis‑à‑vis the European Union (EU), the Minister said. “Therefore, we must find ways and means to continue the debate with Greece in a more serious manner,” Steinmeier added.
After the meeting with Foreign Minister Lajčák, Steinmeier also held talks with President Andrej Kiska and Prime Minister Robert Fico.