During the first official visit to Berlin by Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier addressed the good neighbourly relations based on mutual trust between Germany and the Czech Republic and stressed the close cooperation within the EU. Referring to the current year of commemoration, he thanked the Czech Republic for its help in providing “crucial impetus” on the road to German unity. The current crisis in Ukraine was a special focus of the talks between the two Foreign Ministers. Frank Walter Steinmeier warned against further escalation in the Crimea and called for Ukraine’s territorial integrity to be respected.
25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall: “Thank for your help”
25 years ago, many refugees from the former GDR found shelter in Palais Lobkowicz, the German Embassy in Prague. Foreign Minister Steinmeier recalled this very special event on the occasion of the visit by his Czech opposite number, Lubomír Zaorálek.
Referring to the year of commemoration 2014, the German Foreign Minister expressed his thanks and said:
2014 is also a year in which we express our sincere thanks for the help you gave us, which provided crucial impetus and ensured that the peaceful revolution in the GDR led to German unity.
Turning to the excellent quality of bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Steinmeier spoke of “good fortune in the light of our difficult history”. The two Foreign Ministers agreed that this was due to the efforts of the policymakers and civil society in both countries.
Steinmeier emphasised that many had contributed to this, including the German Czech Discussion Forum and the German Czech Future Fund, which “has done really good work in the years since 1997”.
Promoting Europe together
Referring to the challenges facing the European Union, above all overcoming the sovereign debt crisis, the German Foreign Minister thanked his Czech counterpart for the close cooperation based on mutual trust on European issues.
I am pleased that the Czech Republic has assumed a very active role in the European Union and am delighted, of course, that the country has decided to accede to the fiscal compact.
Ukraine: respect for territorial integrity
The two Foreign Ministers gave special attention to the situation in Ukraine and the Crimea crisis during their talks. At the subsequent press conference, they expressed their concern that the situation might escalate further.
Czech Foreign Minister Zaorálek stressed that this crisis was of great importance to his country in the light of its considerable cultural and economic ties with Ukraine. Zaorálek also praised the mediation efforts by the German, French and Polish Foreign Ministers in Kyiv on 20 and 21 February.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier focused in particular on the early referendum in the Crimea and urged that Ukraine’s territorial integrity be respected.
I am quite certain that not only would the European Union vehemently condemn the annexation but that the international community, including Russia’s neighbours, would react with indignation.
The German Foreign Minister stressed that Russia had “added fuel to the fire” with its decision on the Crimea referendum and the draft bill on the accession of new Federation members.