For Ivan Korčok this was a return to a familiar place: the Slovak Foreign Minister was his country’s ambassador in Berlin from 2005 to 2009 and speaks fluent German. At the joint press meeting, Maas stressed that the close and very trustful relations existing between the two countries also owed a great deal to Korčok, because he was very energetic in driving the enhanced dialogue which Germany and Slovakia have been pursuing in ten thematic working groups since November 2018. This forum shapes bilateral cooperation and has intensified it in many areas over recent years. Heiko Maas firmly believes that Slovakia is a key political partner in Central Europe with which Germany enjoys extremely close economic and cultural ties.
Focus on COVID‑19 and regional issues
Although the COVID‑19 situation in Slovakia had dramatically escalated, the infection rate is now much reduced again. Three Slovak intensive care patients who were being treated in Germany have now recovered and been released from hospital. Nonetheless, COVID-19 remains high on the agenda of both countries. Maas and Korčok talked today in Berlin about how the EU can quickly end the health crisis through cooperation.
They also discussed Ukraine, agreeing that Russia’s announcement that it intends to withdraw some of its forces must swiftly be put into practice. Further, the key prerequisites for progress in the region are the end of the maritime blockade in the Black Sea and the cessation of ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine. Moscow’s recent indication of a willingness to talk – also with the United States – might at least be a small step forwards.
Maas and Korčok also discussed the Western Balkans. Following his trip to Kosovo and Serbia last week, Maas believes it crucial that the EU perspective of the countries in the region remains a credible one – and that this should be ensured through a transparent process with achievable goals. That will help with reform efforts on the ground and will make the EU an even closer partner that stands for close cooperation and tangible perspectives.