Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier took part in the meeting of Foreign Ministers from the Visegrad Group (Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary) in Budapest on Thursday. The meeting focused on the conflict in Ukraine.
In the context of the Ukraine crisis diplomacy, Foreign Minister Steinmeier met his counterparts from the Visegrad Group on Thursday (13 March) to discuss the Russian‑Ukrainian conflict in the Crimea.
Steinmeier pointed out at the subsequent joint press conference that the countries in the Visegrad Group (V4) were observing developments in Ukraine with even more sensitivity and in the light of historical events.
People in these countries still remember Budapest 1956, Prague 1968 and Gdansk 1981. That’s why they are watching events with concern, some even with a sense of imminent threat. We want today’s visit to send the message that these are not only Hungarian, Polish, Slovak or Czech but also European concerns, and thus also our concerns. It’s therefore good that we met today.
Steinmeier also highlighted the joint efforts by the EU member states to find a diplomatic solution to the Crimean conflict. “We don’t want a confrontation with Russia, rather we’re looking for ways to cooperate.” Steinmeier went on to say that what was happening was more than the “threat of a new division in Europe” after 25 years of European integration. Looking to the coming weeks and months, we were faced with an “extremely dangerous situation”.
Diplomatic efforts continue
At the beginning of the week, Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited the Baltic States and stressed once more that the search for diplomatic solutions would continue undiminished. “I believe we can rightly say that we have not been seeking confrontation but have undertaken diplomatic efforts to avoid it.”
However, all efforts to bring about international formats had been unsuccessful to date, reiterated Steinmeier today in Budapest. Furthermore, the Crimea crisis was not the only focus of Germany and its international partners, stated Steinmeier.
It goes without saying that we mustn’t lose sight of the core matter: that’s support for Ukraine itself. That’s not easy in the current situation. Not for an interim government which has just taken up office. Not for a European neighbourhood which now has to explore with which structures it can work sufficiently reliably in the Ukraine to ensure that the assistance granted really does improve people’s situation.
Further measures by the EU?
On Monday (17 March), the Foreign Ministers of all 28 EU states will meet again in Brussels. Steinmeier said that if the referendum on the secession of the Crimea takes place as planned on Sunday then further measures would be agreed on at this meeting. “We will meet on Monday to decide on the second phase of instruments and measures needed now.”
Steinmeier went on to say that if Russia’s interests went beyond the Crimea and the government in Moscow refused to bring about de‑escalation, then “a third phase of measures would be necessary”. The close and intensive coordination with international partners will continue in the coming days. A meeting between US Secretary of State Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov is due to take place in London on Friday.