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Ukraine: Persevering with efforts to bring about a de escalation

06.03.2014 - Article

The crisis in Crimea is threatening to divide Europe. Foreign Minister Steinmeier is working to continue the diplomatic efforts to reach a solution in Ukraine.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Crimea continue. Since the beginning of the week, Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier has been travelling non stop to help resolve the conflict. Even though there has not yet been a breakthrough, in Rome on Thursday (6 March), the German Foreign Minister said that it would be irresponsible to give up on the efforts to de escalate the situation.

Foreign Minister Steinmeier and UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon greet each other in Geneva
Foreign Minister Steinmeier and UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon greet each other in Geneva© Photothek.net

At the beginning of the week the German Foreign Minister first of all held important discussions with his EU counterparts in Brussels. He met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon on Tuesday (4 March) in Geneva.

Following this, Steinmeier consulted with the Swiss Chair of the OSCE, Didier Burkhalter, in Berne. During their talks they discussed sending an OSCE observer mission to Crimea. Click here for more information on the Foreign Minister’s trip to Brussels, Geneva and Berne

Steps to de escalate the situation to be taken

Foreign Minister Steinmeier after the consultations on Ukraine in Paris
Foreign Minister Steinmeier after the consultations on Ukraine in Paris© Photothek / Trutschel

The situation in Ukraine was the topic of discussions held on the margins of the international conference on Lebanon in Paris on Wednesday (5 March). After more than 12 hour long consultations with his European partners and US Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the Foreign Ministers from Russia and Ukraine, Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued a statement in Paris on Wednesday evening, saying that all those involved had agreed to take “steps to de escalate the situation”. However, it had not been possible to achieve the goal of creating an international contact group. The German Foreign Minister went on to say:

I am not satisfied with the overall result. Nonetheless I am at least pleased that the parties involved who we have spoken to today do not want to further escalate the situation.

Foreign Minister Steinmeier talking to his American colleague Kerry
Foreign Minister Steinmeier talking to his American colleague Kerry© Photothek / Trutschel

On Thursday (6 March), the consultations on Ukraine continued on the margins of the conference on Libya in Rome. Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius had arrived from Paris together for the occasion. In total, around 40 Foreign Ministers and representatives of international organisations took part in the conference. Intensive discussions on the crisis in Crimea also took place on the margins of this conference. In Rome, Foreign Minister Steinmeier met, amongst others, his US opposite number, John Kerry, for private talks.

Avoiding a division of Europe

After talks with his counterparts from the United States, France, Great Britain and Italy, Foreign Minister Steinmeier reiterated his warning that Europe could be divided. “We need each other – that includes Russia – in order to resolve other conflicts, such as those in Iran or Syria.” That the situation in Ukraine had escalated further in the last 24 hours had to incite the Foreign Ministers and Heads of Government to undertake even greater efforts, continued Steinmeier. As “a division arising from the conflict in Ukraine could lead to (...) international cooperation being broken off for quite some time”. According to the Foreign Minister, this must not be allowed to happen.

Whilst the Foreign Ministers were meeting in Rome, the European Heads of State and Government met in Brussels for a special summit on Ukraine. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks there with her European counterparts as well as the new Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in which they discussed issues such as agreeing on measures against Russia. For more information on the EU special summit click here.

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