Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Czech counterpart Lubomír Zaorálek for talks at the Federal Foreign Office on Wednesday (25 January). The meeting focused on bilateral relations, the state and future of Europe, and especially on the 20th anniversary of the German-Czech Declaration of 1997.
Close relations between the two countries
At a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart following the meeting, Foreign Minister Steinmeier took a look back at German-Czech relations, saying they had seen particularly fruitful development over the past few years. Comparing bilateral relations today with the situation in the post-war period or in the 1970s and 80s, Steinmeier said, “a huge amount has changed”.
Developing relations at political level, he said, included a “strategic dialogue” initiated by the Foreign Ministers. This, the Minister continued, “involved the unbureaucratic provision of care for emergencies in the border area”, as well as “support for the German-Czech Future Fund” and the German-Czech Discussion Forum.
People as bridge-builders
Beyond the official political level, however, it was in the first instance the people of the two countries who had proved their worth as “bridge-builders”, Steinmeier said. This had also fed into the German-Czech Declaration on Mutual Relations and their Future Development of 21 January 1997, the 20th anniversary of which the two Foreign Ministers were marking. Steinmeier and his colleague expressed their appreciation of the 1997 document in a declaration signed jointly before the press.
Focus on the future of Europe
Another important topic, besides bilateral relations, was the current state of the European Union. The German Foreign Minister and his Czech counterpart also discussed the future of Europe and possible ways out of the crisis. The task now, Steinmeier said, was to “try even more determinedly to resolve this European crisis”. He and his Czech colleague were in agreement that “for this Europe, for the European Union, for European integration, there is no real alternative for our two countries”.