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Press release on the Cabinet decision to appoint Johann Saathoff, Member of the German Bundestag, as Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries

26.08.2020 - Press release

Following the Cabinet decision to appoint Johann Saathoff, Member of the German Bundestag, as Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries, the new Coordinator, his predecessor Dirk Wiese as well as Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statements today (26 August):

Johann Saathoff, Member of the German Bundestag:

I am delighted with my appointment as Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries. Cultivating relations with these 12 countries is very important to Germany, for they form our immediate neighbourhood. We can see very clearly once more at present that these countries face major challenges and that new ones can quickly emerge.

In its foreign policy, Germany has clear positions and champions democracy and human rights. Personal contacts as well as cooperation between civil societies beyond borders build trust and bridges even where the political situation is difficult. That applies in particular to German-Russian relations. Whether it be in Kyiv, Tbilisi, Nur‑Sultan or Bishkek – I look forward to getting to know the many large and small organisations which help shape our relations.

My previous area of expertise – economic policy and in particular energy policy – will stand me in good stead when it comes to intersocietal cooperation with all countries in our neighbourhood. At the latest since the Paris Agreement, climate and energy policy have been focused on global goals which can only be achieved through ongoing international cooperation. I already have much contact with the region in connection with renewable energies.

Dirk Wiese, Member of the German Bundestag:

As Coordinator, I very much enjoyed being able to play my part in expanding relations with our eastern neighbours. I was especially impressed by the commitment of so many individuals from civil society beyond borders and in some places under difficult political conditions. Democracy can only be successful where there is a civil society which demands this and where there is a free and independent press ensuring transparency. This defining standpoint will influence my future political work. I will maintain my close relations with our eastern neighbours.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas:

I would like to thank Dirk Wiese for his tireless efforts to form even closer ties with the societies of the 12 states in our eastern neighbourhood. Johann Saathoff is taking up this post at a time when the importance of a vibrant civil society and a functioning dialogue, not only between governments, has become very apparent once again. I wish him every success as well as good and interesting impressions and talks.

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