Hungary’s Foreign Minister Tibor Navracsics paid his first official visit to Berlin on Monday (21 July). Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warmly welcomed him to the Federal Foreign Office – however, the main issue discussed during their talks was a serious matter: the situation in Ukraine following the apparent shooting down of passenger aircraft MH17 was the focus of the meeting.
EU Foreign Ministers want to step up the pressure
Talking about the current situation in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated unequivocally:
The key to a resolution can only be a ceasefire, on which we – the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – conducted negotiations almost three weeks ago here in Berlin.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier went on to say that it was necessary to secure the Russian-Ukrainian border in order to stop fighters and weapons infiltrating eastern Ukraine. The escalation of the violence in eastern Ukraine meant that time was of the essence. This would also be the basis for the consultations among the EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on Tuesday (22 July). Steinmeier continued:
We will have to step up the pressure in order to get the results which all European Foreign Ministers believe are vital.
Separatists’ conduct beyond the bounds of civilised behaviour
Four days have passed since the apparent shooting down of passenger aircraft MH17 in eastern Ukraine. Foreign Minister Steinmeier called for an independent, international inquiry on the day of the crash. However, access to the crash site and the recovery of the bodies has been obstructed by the separatists for the last few days.
The German Foreign Minister described this as “conduct beyond the bounds of civilised behaviour” and reiterated:
The fact that the victims’ mortal remains have been treated with such a lack of compassion, that the separatists are still not prepared to hand them over four days after the crash and that a swift investigation of the crash site by international experts is still being prevented – all of this shows quite clearly what kind of people we are dealing with!
UN Security Council: Russia expected to play a constructive role
The Minister went on to say that it was not clear whether Russia really was putting the separatists under pressure so that the necessary international investigation into the crash of MH17 could begin.
At present, the UN Security Council in New York is debating a resolution which would formulate demands on the separatists in connection with the plane crash in eastern Ukraine. Steinmeier stressed that he expected Russia to play a constructive role in the vote on this resolution.
EU: Democracy within in order to be credible to the outside world
Referring beforehand to German-Hungarian relations, Foreign Minister Steinmeier had turned to the recent history of the two countries’ bilateral relations: He stated that the historic events of 1989 symbolised a “great moment of friendship between Germany and Hungary”.
Steinmeier went on to say that the time of the peaceful revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe was probably the “most free, most peaceful and most cooperative” period in Europe’s history. However, the crisis in Ukraine showed how fragile peace and stability still were today in Europe’s neighbourhood.
Steinmeier added that European cooperation had to be placed on a solid footing if it was to “foster stability and peace”:
We have to respect democracy, the rule of law, freedom and pluralism within in order to be credible to the outside world.
You can read the full statement made by Foreign Minister Steinmeier on Ukraine here.