The crisis in Afghanistan has disappeared from the newspaper headlines, but not from the focus of the German Government. Pakistan has been affected like no other country by the impact of this crisis. At the same time, it is a key partner for us in bringing the people in Afghanistan to safety for whom we bear responsibility.
To date, with our support, almost 21,000 people have been able to embark on a new life in Germany, including almost three quarters of our local employees. In recent months, we have done everything in our power to remove the obstacles along the path that were such a hindrance to the evacuation efforts at the start. One thing is clear: there are no simple solutions, let alone truly satisfactory ones. In view of the disastrous situation, we therefore have to be very pragmatic and need to cooperate with very different stakeholders. One central focus of my talks in Pakistan, which has already provided us with support, will therefore be how we can arrange a swift departure for the people still remaining in Afghanistan.
However, we will also discuss how we can help alleviate the suffering of the people in Afghanistan while increasing the pressure on the Taliban to respect the rights of their people, and particularly those of women and girls. And we will discuss efforts to combat the climate crisis and the response to Russia’s grain war – for Pakistan is affected more severely by both than most other countries in the world.
In going to Greece, I am paying a visit to one of our closest partners in Europe. We see eye to eye with Athens, both in our support for Ukraine and the concerted European response to Russia’s aggression, and in our determination to fight the climate crisis and rapidly accelerate the development of renewable energies. Yet, as familiar many Germans are with Greece as an unforgettable holiday destination, they are often ignorant of the extent of the atrocities committed by Germans during the Nazi occupation. For me as Foreign Minister, it is a central priority to keep this memory alive.
At the same time, Greece plays an important role with regard to security in the Mediterranean region. At a time when Europe’s security order is being fundamentally called into question by President Putin, we need to stand together and present a united front as NATO allies and European partners. Our aim must be to resolve problems through dialogue rather than by escalating tensions. This will also be an important topic during my talks in Ankara.
My trip to Turkey will take me to a crucial partner and to a country that is connected with ours like almost no other. A German and a Turkish heart beats in millions of people in Germany. The times in which that was seen as a problem are finally past. For me, this dual heartbeat is also a dual strength. As in any close relationship, I will therefore speak openly with our Turkish friends: about the importance of NATO and of strengthening it by accepting Finland and Sweden as members; about solutions for Putin’s systemic grain war and Turkey's mediation efforts, which are giving despairing people throughout the world cause for hope; and of course I will also raise issues in Turkey on which there are major and in some cases fundamental differences. Freedom of opinion, human rights, compliance with obligations as a member of the Council of Europe. We can see how in these areas our paths are drifting further and further apart, and we need to ensure that they move closer together again.