Interview given by Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier to the Bild newspaper on the situation in Ukraine and his trip to Africa. Published on 26 March 2014 at www.bild.de
Frank Walter Steinmeier on a trip to Africa (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Angola) in the midst of the Ukraine crisis: has your plane gone off course?
The crisis in Europe is depressing but the world isn’t standing still. Africa is important to us and is changing much more rapidly than many of us think. Developments in Africa have a direct impact on us. It’s therefore right to also invest time and energy in our neighbouring continent.
Must Germany deploy more servicemen and women in Africa?
All the people I’ve spoken to have emphasised that Africa wants to resolve its crises on its own. We can and should support the continent’s efforts. Above all, this means training, promoting development and supporting regional cooperation.
Let’s turn to Crimea: the G7 have excluded Russia. Is the dream of a world government thus over?
Neither the G7 nor the G8 are a world government. As long as Russia does not change its course we can’t just carry on with business as usual. We still want constructive relations with Russia. There must be no new rifts in Europe.
Can Russia stay in the G20 and in the UN Security Council?
Russia is and will remain our eastern neighbour. Without Russia major conflicts cannot be overcome, as we’ve seen in Syria and Iran. We must be able to carry on talking to each other. Nobody wants to cut off avenues of communication.
Are we facing a new Cold War?
I don’t like this idea – and nobody can seriously want that. We must get back to constructive relations. The ball is now in Russia’s court. With Russia’s consent the monitoring mission can now also go to eastern Ukraine. This is a first step in the right direction. And more must follow!
Crimea has been lost. But has Putin now been stopped?
We have responded emphatically to Russia’s action, which violates international law. Moscow knows that we will step up the pressure if it wants to take more than Crimea.
Must NATO show more clout?
Throwing our military weight around is certainly not the right answer; nobody in the German Government wants that. NATO members must be sure their allies will protect them. There is no reason to doubt this.
And if there is any? Is there a red line?
Serious politics is not child’s play. The EU has agreed on different levels of sanctions. This decision stands. Everybody knows this and so does Moscow.
What is the Chancellor’s influence on the Russian President?
Germany plays an important role in the crisis. Our European partners are looking to us, and even in critical moments Angela Merkel and I have kept the communication channels with Moscow open. Without these efforts the situation would have escalated further.
Can you still sleep well given the Crimea crisis?
If I were to get any sleep at all it would be a good thing! But seriously: in the last four weeks there have been some days where meetings, talks and telephone calls never seemed to end, not even at night. But this crisis is the most serious one Europe has seen in the last 25 years. This requires and justifies all our efforts.
This interview was conducted by Hanno Kautz. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bild.