At the end of his trip to the Baltic region Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement in Vilnius today (11 March):
In the capitals of the three Baltic states I conveyed the German Government’s message that we understand the concerns of the people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania about political developments in Ukraine and their fear that uncertainty will also spread to other areas of the European Union.
I have come here to tell them that we will not leave the people in the Baltic states to face their fears alone. Their problems are our problems, too. If they are concerned, Europe must also be concerned. We, as members of the European Union, jointly declare that secession of Crimea from Ukraine is unacceptable under international law and requires a response from us.
The EU member states agreed that we want to jointly seek diplomatic ways to resolve the conflict within Ukraine and de escalate the conflict between Ukraine and Russia as long and as intensively as possible.
I believe we can rightly say that we have not been aiming for confrontation but have undertaken diplomatic efforts to avoid it. Now Russia must decide whether there is still a final chance to look for and find solutions.
If the process of separating Crimea from Ukraine continues and the referendum to be held at the weekend produces a result that is used to cut off Crimea from the Ukrainian state and incorporate it into Russian territory, we in Europe will, of course, have to respond. How and in which way we will do so will be discussed by European Foreign Ministers very carefully and responsibly. We will make all the necessary preparations for any further decisions that may have to be taken by the European heads of government.