Solidarity and Strategic Dialogue with Czechia – and tough EU measures against Belarus
Heiko Maas is receiving the new Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek, © Janine Schmitz/photothek.de
Heiko Maas is today receiving the new Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek for talks on Russia, Belarus and the deepening of German-Czech relations.
The EU stands firmly as one and responds, when necessary, with rapid and resolute action. This message is underscored by the inaugural visit of the new Czech Foreign Minister to Berlin. At his meeting with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas today, the agenda will include German support for the Czech embassy in Moscow as well as the EU’s decisive action against the regime in Belarus following the forced landing of a civilian aeroplane and the arrest of the journalist Roman Protasevich in Minsk.
In response to this unprecedented incident in Belarus, the EU yesterday launched comprehensive joint measures. Foreign Minister Maas will discuss the issue today with his Czech counterpart. Germany and the EU are responding at every level. They are demanding the immediate release of Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega. In addition, they are calling on all airlines headquartered in the EU to avoid flights over Belarus. Sanctions will be applied to further individuals and organisations in Belarus as soon as possible.
Germany supports Czechia in Moscow
After almost all Czech diplomats were expelled from Moscow by the Russian leadership in an unprecedented escalation, Germany stands firmly by its EU partner. The Federal Government will do everything in its power to support Czechia’s efforts on the ground in Moscow, and the two countries’ ambassadors are liaising closely to this end. In this matter, too, the message is clear – any third party taking issue with one EU country must expect a united and resolute response from the entire EU.
Deepening relations with Czechia
One focus of the talks between Ministers Maas and Kulhánek will be the Strategic Dialogue between Prague and Berlin. Various ministries from both countries will be collaborating on joint approaches in a total of eleven policy areas. One immediate priority is to prepare for the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2022. Germany held the Presidency in the second half of 2020 and will be sharing its experiences with Prague. Civil society cooperation is another key focus. A new advisory board has just been appointed for the German-Czech Dialogue Forum, with fifteen representatives from politics and wider society. Meanwhile, on 17 May, Germany, Czechia and Austria signed a declaration of intent concerning the expansion of the rail network connecting Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Vienna (known as Via Vindobona).
There are a great many lessons to be learned from the COVID‑19 pandemic. Germany and Czechia have shown one another plentiful support and solidarity. However, particularly in the closely interconnected border region, the pandemic was a severe challenge involving severe measures such as border controls. In this respect, close coordination in a spirit of mutual trust remains particularly important. Today’s talks between the two Foreign Ministers will therefore also cover the topic of cooperation in the fight against COVID‑19.