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Foreign Minister Heiko Maas prior to his departure for Greece and the UK

21.07.2020 - Press release

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (21 July) prior to his departure for Greece and the UK:

I am travelling to Athens today on what is a very special morning for Europe. Following tough negotiations, Europe reached a compromise.

Even if the run‑up was long, in the end we took a greater leap than many thought we could achieve. The European Union has shown that it is able to act decisively and in a spirit of solidarity even in the severest economic crisis it has ever experienced. This is a strong foundation for bringing all of Europe’s citizens safely through this crisis.

I also want to make use of the talks in Athens today to discuss migration issues. Europe must not leave Greece to cope alone with the problems of migration in the Mediterranean. The humanitarian situation in the camps on Lesbos and other places is partly very difficult, so Germany has offered to take in further unaccompanied children. However, our goal is a pan-European solution that will provide long-term support to the countries hit hardest by migration. We are thus making reform of the Common European Asylum System a priority of our Council Presidency and want to achieve results on this.

My talks with Dominic Raab on Wednesday will address a large number of international matters on which we work closely with the UK, for example in the E3 format with Iran, relations with China and dealing with Russian influence in Europe. The UK remains a vital partner for us in crucial questions concerning international security. We speak the same language on values and key strategic matters, so we want to continue our close relations with the UK even after Brexit. With regard to the negotiations with the EU, Michel Barnier and the European Commission have our full support. Reaching agreement on the basis of the Political Declaration by October is ambitious, but still feasible.

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