An unusual mix of quadrilateral talks and poetry slam. On Thursday (27 November), Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed Didier Burkhalter, Aurelia Frick and Sebastian Kurz, his counterparts from Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria respectively, to Berlin for the annual talks of the Foreign Ministers of the German-speaking countries.
This year’s quadrilateral meeting was hosted by Germany and took place in the German Foreign Minister’s guest house, Villa Borsig. The Foreign Ministers discussed current crises, particularly the crisis in eastern Ukraine, and their countries’ joint endeavours in the OSCE, which is currently chaired by Switzerland. Foreign Minister Steinmeier thanked Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Confederation and Swiss Foreign Minister, for taking on great responsibility in the OSCE, thus paving the way for the Minsk Protocol on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. For his part, Burkhalter thanked “the German team” for its support, which it also provided in the “most difficult hours of the year”.
Promoting the German language
Steinmeier and his counterparts also discussed projects on promoting the German language, with a focus on the joint project TRADUKI in southeast Europe. This project has been supporting translations from German, into German and between the languages of the southeast European countries in the region since 2008. The aim is thus also to foster conflict management and prevention.
First poetry slam in the world of diplomacy
However, the German language is not only important abroad — it also took on an artistic form today in the fireplace room in Villa Borsig, where the first poetry slam in the world of diplomacy was held after the talks. The line‑up featured well‑known names from the world of German poetry, including Team Scheller consisting of Dominique Macri and Dalibor Marković, who recently won the German poetry slam championship, and Julius Fischer and Bas Böttcher, who also have a wealth of experience in this field. Ken Yamamoto, who presented the event, described the development of poetry slams in Germany. This art form has become extremely popular in Germany in the past 20 years, and thus also helps to promote the German language.
Around 30 trainees and students from the foreign service joined the Foreign Ministers at the event. The performers presented their new texts on the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago. Their wise words and delightful ideas met with resounding applause from the audience.
Meeting in Switzerland in 2015
Burkhalter announced that the next meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the German‑speaking countries would be hosted by Switzerland in 2015 and take place in his home town of Neuchâtel.