Foreign Minister Baerbock makes her first official trip to the Middle East
Aussenministerin Baerbock travels to the Middle East, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.de
From 9 to 12 February, Foreign Minister Baerbock is making her first trip to the Middle East as Foreign Minister. The Minister is to travel first to Israel and the Palestinian territories, followed by Jordan and Egypt.
The aim of this trip is for the Minister to begin personal dialogue on current bilateral and regional issues, including on the Middle East peace process. Furthermore, new forms of cooperation in the climate field are to be explored, not least because the entire region is particularly affected by climate change and this is playing an ever more significant role in the region’s security Architecture.
Prior to her departure, the Minister said:
During my visit to the Middle East I particularly want to emphasise that Germany remains a strong and reliable partner. The new Federal Government will not relax its efforts to promote peace and security for the people in the region. We believe that this is inextricably linked with the protection of human rights, as lasting stability can only be achieved where people have security and the opportunity for peaceful participation.
In Israel – deliberately the Minister’s first port of call given the unique, close and multifaceted relations with this country – the Foreign Minister will engage in political talks, also with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Her programme includes a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, just a few days after the Speaker of the Knesset, Mickey Levy, and Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher took the floor in the German Bundestag on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Foreign Minister Baerbock will lay a wreath in Yad Vashem to commemorate the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.
Thereafter, the Minister will travel to the Palestinian territories where she will meet among others President Abbas and Foreign Minister al-Maliki and hold talks with civil society representatives. For the goal of a negotiated two-state solution, there has to be a functional, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state.
Upon arriving in Jordan, Foreign Minister Baerbock will have talks with her counterpart Minister Safadi in Amman and then travel 35 kilometres further south to visit a refugee settlement in Talbieh. This is operated by the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and receives significant funding from Germany. In Jordan, more than two million people, representing more than 20 percent of the population, are registered with UNRWA. Hundreds of thousands more have come to Jordan since the start of the civil war in Syria. Jordan is making an almost unparalleled contribution by taking in, looking after and integrating these people.
After Jordan, the Minister is due to travel on to Egypt where she will also engage in political talks, for example with Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukri. Seven German schools abroad in Egypt, two German-Egyptian universities and 400,000 Egyptians who speak German are unique features which have grown out of the almost seventy years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Furthermore, Egypt is hosting this year’s international Climate Change Conference in November and is thus a key actor when it comes to international climate protection. While in the country, Foreign Minister Baerbock will engage in dialogue with the actors driving the Cairo Climate Talks.
Germany is using the framework provided by its current G7 Presidency to forge ahead with ambitious targets for climate and environmental protection and for the energy transition. Here, too, the Foreign Minister laid out her priorities prior to her departure:
There are few places in the world where the threats posed by the climate crisis for people, nature and the economy as well as opportunities for sustainable transformation converge as they do in the Middle East. At all stages of my trip I intend to seek opportunities for greater cooperation in the field of climate and energy policy, whether in developing renewable energies, safeguarding water reserves or protecting natural resources. Egypt, as the host for the next Climate Change Conference, has a particularly important role to play – I will propose to my counterpart there that we jointly assume the chair of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which we will be hosting in July.
With this first official visit, Foreign Minister Baerbock wants to pay tribute to Germany’s relations with Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Egypt, to consolidate these relations and develop them further, particularly in the field of climate and environmental protection.