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Maas in Valencia: reopening and reconstructing Europe together with Spain Spain

Heiko Maas and Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya visiting the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) of Valencia

Heiko Maas and Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya visiting the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) of Valencia, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

23.06.2020 - Article

During his visit to Spain, Foreign Minister Maas intends to pay tribute to the country’s great efforts in the fight against coronavirus and to present Germany’s priorities for its Presidency of the Council of the European Union starting next week.

Spain is back – after only Italy and the UK were hit harder by the pandemic in Europe, signs have been pointing to a cautious reopening of the country since Sunday when the state of emergency was lifted. With today’s visit, Maas is emphasising the fact that Spain is an essential partner in Europe. Both countries are pulling together in a pro-European direction in key areas such as economic reconstruction and as advocates of multilateralism.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union: a dynamic new start in a spirit of solidarity

Germany has one objective for its Presidency beginning on 1 July, namely “Together for Europe’s recovery”. Germany wants to help Europe emerge from the crisis with greater social cohesion and solidarity at home and with greater strength and sovereignty abroad.

Press Statement held by Federal Foreign Minister Maas in the harbour of Valencia
Press Statement held by Federal Foreign Minister Maas in the harbour of Valencia© Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

The number-one priority now is a powerful economic and social new start, and no country in Europe should be left behind. As an honest broker, Germany wants to do its utmost to move quickly to achieve a compromise on the financial issues relating to reconstruction.

Emerging from the crisis

At the height of the coronavirus crisis, Spain lost many lives and had to put up with massive restrictions to public life. The fact that travel in Europe is nevertheless slowly picking up speed today is also a testament to the energy and determination of the Spanish Government. And it is also thanks to the great discipline and solidarity shown by the population during these difficult weeks as Spain introduced comparatively strict measures to contain the virus. Spain is now facing a unique holiday season and Germany is playing an important role in this regard. Last week, almost 11,000 Germans took part in a test run for a holiday in the Balearic Islands in times of the pandemic. Spain is the most popular destination for Germans. It is clear to Maas that borders can only be reopened with caution and consideration. Travellers and hosts alike must abide by safety measures, and both sides must trust each other. The new start for the tourist industry must not lead to a new start for the pandemic.

Fresh impetus for bilateral relations

Together with his Spanish counterpart Arancha González Laya, Foreign Minister Maas will today sign a Memorandum of Understanding on an exchange of officials between the countries’ foreign ministries. In so doing, Germany and Spain intend to deepen their relations still further and to work together on strategic issues also at this level. Today’s visit is also a special one since it will take place in Valencia, a city with a vibrant economic and cultural scene. The Foreign Minister will visit the port together with the Regional President and then, together with the Spanish Foreign Minister, the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias), the city’s landmark. The time that both Foreign Ministers are taking today to hold an intensive exchange of views also demonstrates that Spain is a close and like-minded partner.

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