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Statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on the informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in video conference call format

03.04.2020 - Press release

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (3 April) prior to the informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in video conference call format:

As Europe addresses this crisis, it faces an extreme task. Since its earliest days, the European Union has overcome many difficult challenges – and has grown stronger in the process. In many ways, I see that we as the EU have now teamed up in the fight against this virus: We have agreed without delay to take stronger financial action than even during the financial crisis. We are working together on repatriating travellers who are spread across the world, so that Europeans can get home as soon as possible. And we are airlifting patients from the hardest-hit European countries, so that they can receive intensive care where those capacities are still available.

All this is far from enough. But it does show that everyone is determined to provide a united, European response to the crisis. Today, we will discuss how we can better coordinate our fight against Covid-19 in the foreign policy sphere, as well, and how we can effectively tackle disinformation.

In our neighbourhood, in the Western Balkans, we are already now demonstrating that Europe is a reliable partner; we are making available more than 400 million euros in assistance, including for ventilators, protective masks and laboratory equipment.

In this critical phase, it is good that Miroslav Lajčák has been appointed EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans region. He brings a great deal of experience to the job; he will give the EU a stronger political voice in the region and will move forward the difficult dialogue on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.  

The EU-led dialogue is the right course of action, because it is focused on a common goal. This can help to truly and comprehensively resolve the many questions that are still open between Serbia and Kosovo. By lifting the punitive tariffs on Serbian products, the caretaker government of Kosovo has taken an important initial step toward rapprochement with Belgrade. Now, both sides must be willing to take the additional steps that are needed to build trust. Miroslav Lajčák will strongly facilitate these efforts.

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