“We still need functioning multilateralism in the 21st century.”

01.06.2020 - Press release

On 31 May, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement to the Funke media group:

The decision by US President Donald Trump to end cooperation with the World Health Organization sends the wrong message at the wrong time. The COVID‑19 pandemic is the first truly global crisis of our century. To overcome this challenge, we need worldwide cooperation rather than national go‑it‑alone approaches. We need a united response in a spirit of solidarity from all countries and the United Nations, with a strong WHO at the centre. We will continue to hold intensive talks in Washington to try to convince the US Government of this approach.

It goes without saying that it is right that, together with the WHO and our partners, we learn lessons from how we have tackled the COVID‑19 pandemic and embark on the necessary reforms. We intend to focus on this task when the time is right. The number of people infected with the virus worldwide is still increasing, and the crisis is affecting more and more countries. We cannot dismantle the dam and build a new one while the storm tide is rising.

The current crisis has vividly driven home to us once again that we still need functioning multilateralism in the 21st century. For we Europeans especially can surely not want the opposing interests between China and the United States to become irreconcilable. The world must not be allowed to be divided into a Chinese and an American sphere of interest. Europe, together with our partners, is therefore called to lead this difficult battle for a viable multilateralism.

That, of course, applies to us all the more during our Presidency of the EU Council from 1 July. And that is also why we are continuing to work to ensure that the EU‑China Summit can take place in September. There are many key issues we need to discuss with China. We want China to commit to upholding ambitious climate goals and fair global competition. However, it must always be clear that Europe stands for particular values, standards and principles. And we will insist that these be respected in our talks with China.


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