Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (18 June) before departing for Austria and Bulgaria:
After being forced to take a three-month break from travel, I now want to resume face-to-face talks with my European colleagues. Only a few days prior to the launch of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July, I will use my trip to Vienna and Sofia to present our programme’s top priorities.
We have chosen “Together for Europe’s recovery” as the motto for our Presidency. The COVID-19 crisis has unsparingly exposed some of the weak spots and dependencies of the European Union. However, the crisis has also highlighted Europe’s strengths: solidarity and a willingness to compromise among the member states, along with social security for our citizens. We must now resume the work of building up these strengths, rather than weakening them.
What is at stake in Europe over the coming months is much more than packages of billions of euros in aid. We are facing historic challenges – but the opportunity for change is equally historic. We want to make the most of this opportunity. Europe cannot afford to have a lost year.
Austria and Bulgaria are two important, pro-European partners that we need by our side during our Presidency. I look forward to meeting everyone again, and to constructive talks.
Foreign Minister Maas is travelling to Vienna today and will fly on to Sofia in the afternoon. He will use his visits to these cities only a few days before the start of Germany’s EU Council Presidency to present Germany’s top priorities and to exchange views with his counterparts in both countries on other bilateral and international issues.
In Vienna, he will meet with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Federal President Alexander van der Bellen.
While in Sofia, he will meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in the late afternoon, followed by talks with Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva. Later that evening, he will return to Berlin.