A strategic dialogue between Germany and the Czech Republic is intended to make the two countries’ relations even denser. Foreign Minster Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed a joint declaration to that effect in Berlin on Friday (3 July) alongside his Czech opposite number, Lubomír Zaorálek.
“German‑Czech relations have never been better,” declared Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the press conference that followed his meeting with Foreign Minister Zaorálek. The two foreign ministers had just signed a joint declaration intended to further intensify bilateral relations. Priority areas for cooperation are set out in a joint work programme. The strategic dialogue is to cover nine areas, such as foreign and security policy, climate protection and defence matters. They are to be reviewed for effectiveness annually.
Bilateral cooperation and European issues
During their press conference, the two foreign ministers also touched on the other items that had been on the agenda for their talks. These included the situation in the EU with the imminent referendum in Greece as well as matters of migration into Europe. Steinmeier emphasised that no EU member state found it easy to deal with the floods of refugees and that member states should nonetheless avoid assuming too defensive a stance. This, he said, would contradict European values.
The foreign ministers also talked about the situation in Ukraine. The Minsk agreements, Steinmeier said, remained far from implemented. He explained that this was why the latest meeting of foreign ministers in the Normandy format (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia) had focused on “at least safeguarding the conditions for implementation”. This had been essential, he went on, “to bring the number of technical violations of the ceasefire back down”. Asked about the regional elections announced by separatists, Steinmeier said:
We are not yet at the stage where we could start preparing the regional elections which the Minsk agreements envisaged taking place this year. The Minsk agreements list a whole series of procedures that have not yet been completed. Whatever these local elections may be that are now being arranged, they are not the elections mentioned in the Minsk agreement, and nor can they stand in place of those elections.
Swiftest possible investigation of phone‑tapping accusations
Asked about the most recent revelations about phone‑tapping accusations levelled at the US secret services, Steinmeier called for the “swiftest possible investigation” and said, “I hope that the US side will be helpful as these claims are investigated. We will see whether that is the case in the next few days.” In view of international crisis, however, working with the United States was indispensable, he went on. As Steinmeier put it, two things therefore applied: “We need to establish what actually happened and speak to the Americans about that in all openness. At the same time, there must be no fundamental damage to the cooperation which, in view of the major conflicts, is after all in our interest too.”