The build-up of Russian troops means that the fate of an entire country and its people currently hangs in the balance on the Ukrainian border. The situation is extremely dangerous and could escalate at any time – in Europe we are all too well aware of how quickly that can happen. We have worked hard over many decades to establish and continually develop the European peaceful order. Every day, people in Germany as well as in all other countries of our continent put their trust in this order, which forms the foundation for achievements such as basic liberties as well as economic opportunities and prosperity. That is unique, and it is an asset that should never be pushed into the background or forgotten. In this highly dangerous crisis it is all the more crucial that we demonstrate with all due consistency and determination that all of us – in the north as in the south of the continent, in the east as in the west – support this peaceful order and what it means in practice.
I am travelling to Madrid today because we regard Spain as one of our most important and closest partners in these endeavours. We agree that we must grasp all opportunities for dialogue and for a peaceful solution to the crisis. At the same time, we in the EU and NATO stand united behind Ukraine and leave in no doubt that the responsibility for de-escalation clearly lies with Russia: it is the duty of the Government in Moscow to withdraw the troops and ensure full transparency with regard to its actions – in accordance with the principles by which Russia has pledged to abide, not least within the context of the OSCE.
Yet we also share a positive agenda with Spain: together, we want to provide new impetus for Europe in the areas of ecological transition, global climate diplomacy, a European migration policy and stability in Europe’s southern neighbourhood, among others. Today we will also discuss these issues and try to drive them forward with German-Spanish engagement and with the goal of a strong European Union rooted in solidarity and fit for the future.