Never before has cohesion between NATO allies and European partners been more important than at this time when Russia is not only planning to subjugate Ukraine as a self-determined country, but is also doing its utmost to divide our Alliance. That is why it is important to me especially now to go on my first official visit to Greece and Turkey, which had to be postponed earlier.
In Greece, I will be visiting one of our closest partners in Europe – in our support for Ukraine, in our European resistance against Russia’s aggression and also in the fight against the climate crisis and in the vigorous expansion of renewable energies. Many Germans are well acquainted with Greece as a holiday destination, but too few are aware of the truly enormous guilt that Germany brought upon itself there in the Second World War with the atrocities of the Nazi occupation. Keeping the memory of this alive is important to me – because it is vital to a good common future. Last but not least, I want to hear about what we as the European Union must do to ensure that our common external border is secure – also for the people risking their lives in seeking refuge here. The task that Greece is shouldering on behalf of us all is immense and merits our full solidarity.
Security in the Mediterranean will also be an important focus of my talks in Istanbul and Ankara. There, too, our message is that problems must be solved through talks, not by escalating tensions.
Turkey is an indispensable partner and is more closely linked to Germany than almost any other country. The hearts of millions of people beat for both our countries. Against this backdrop, it is important to me that we do not drift further and further apart politically. As in any close relationship, we will speak frankly with each other – about Turkey’s mediation in the Black Sea, which offers a glimmer of hope for millions of people that an even worse hunger crisis can be averted. About joint plans in NATO. But, of course, I will also address the issues in Turkey on which we have fundamental differences at times, including the military interventions in northern Syria, human rights and compliance with the country’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe. Here, too, we must ensure that our paths start converging once again.