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Joint Statement by Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States on the Darfur Peace Process

il y a 7 heures 44 min

Representatives of the Government of Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) met in Berlin on 16/17 April 2018 to discuss a pre-negotiations agreement that would serve as a basis for the resumption of peace talks for the Darfur as part of the broader Sudan peace process. The event was hosted by the German Berghof Foundation. The AU/UN Joint Mediator and Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Germany and the United States served as facilitators. Norway and the United Kingdom were present as observers.

The parties engaged and made a serious effort towards a compromise. However, while the parties made progress, they did not reach an agreement in their second Berlin meeting. The facilitators will consider options for further progress together with the parties, partners and interested international actors. We call on the parties to continue to adhere to their pledges to cease hostilities and to remain engaged with the Joint Chief Mediator in order to find a solution to the outstanding issues and enter into formal talks.

Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace of the UN General Assembly

il y a 9 heures 50 min

 -- advanced copy - check against delivery --

Mr President,
Mr Secretary-General,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly for convening today’s meeting, which could not have come at a better time.

The international community faces many conflicts and problems. We all know the main ones – climate change, forced displacement, migration and terrorism, to name just a few.

We are also seeing a growing divide between those who support openness and tolerance and those who preach isolation and a return to nationalism.

There is also a divide between those who believe in the benefits of rules-based international cooperation and those who seek confrontation and firmly refuse to compromise on the world stage.

Seldom has the competition for global order been so intense or the need to work closely together so great.

The inhumane conduct by the Assad regime is an attack on the core values of the international community.

We must not close our eyes to it. The violations of fundamental international humanitarian law cannot go unpunished.

Those responsible must be held accountable. The blockade of the United Nations Security Council poses a dangerous challenge to the international community’s ability to act.

That is why, ladies and gentlemen, we need to rethink our approach for the future.

  • We must seek dialogue instead of confrontation.
  • We must invest in disarmament instead of rearmament.
  • And we must focus on prevention instead of intervention.

The international community must demonstrate the ability to act in all phases of a conflict, from prevention and conflict resolution to stabilisation, post-conflict peacebuilding and sustainable development.

  • We cannot only address conflicts once they are on the front pages of the newspapers.
  • Furthermore, we must not lose our focus too soon, let alone accept frozen conflicts. We need to be resolute in our search for political solutions.
  • Most importantly, however, we need all those involved, but especially the Security Council, to take on political responsibility.

Let me give you just one example. The international community is active in the Sahel region, where it is conducting a wide range of peace and training missions and providing border-management support and humanitarian aid.

However, these measures will only succeed if the necessary peace and reconciliation processes can be brought to a conclusion that is acceptable to all.



Ladies and gentlemen,

We firmly believe that preserving and enhancing our rules-based order, with the United Nations at its heart, is the best way to create peace.

That is why Germany strongly supports the aim of Secretary-General António Guterres to make the United Nations more effective and to put the focus on prevention.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Modern peace policy needs to be funded in the right way.

It is not efficient if peacekeeping missions that cost billions are followed by peacebuilding plans that lack funds.

That is why we have responded to the Secretary-General’s call for a quantum leap.

Germany has more than tripled its budget for crisis prevention, stabilisation and humanitarian aid to 2.5 billion euros in 2017. We were the second-largest donor to the Peacebuilding Fund last year and will make another large contribution this year. We call on others, including those who do not usually contribute, to play their part.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Germany promotes prevention and a far-reaching definition of security.

It is aware of the work needed for the challenging transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. And it actively supports close cooperation between the Security Council, General Assembly, Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council.

Should your votes elect us to the Security Council for the 2019/20 term, we will continue working with you on forward-looking and modern peace policy. That is something we owe to future generations.

Thank you very much.

Statement by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Human Rights/Conflict Prevention Caucus High-Level Event of the UN General Assembly on The preventive potential of human rights instruments – What does it mean in practice?

il y a 13 heures 3 min

Ladies and Gentlemen,
dear friends, 

Together with State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl, I am very pleased to welcome you to the German House.

I have just arrived from Toronto where I met with my G7 colleagues. As you can imagine we had importang discussions on Russia, Syria, China, but not only simple ones. But you might be surprised hearing that we also discussed conflict prevention. Actually I took pride in leading this debate, as Chrystia, my Canadan colleague asked me to.

So I am happy to spread the news here: there was broad consensus amongst us in supporting Secretary-General Guterres and his focus on prevention. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all know that it is better not to let crises escalate into conflicts in the first place. Rather, one must seek to prevent violent confrontations from the start. 

The list of conflicts that pose a threat to international peace and security is a long one. So long that it is difficult to bear. 

And this makes it hard to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights are too often ignored or violated during conflicts.

So, it is time for reflection:  The violation of human rights is an important early warning indicator. It can point to possible threats of security.

This comes with an appeal to international responsibility. Because security cannot mean putting off action until the graves have been dug.

True security is guaranteed only when human rights are guaranteed.

And that brings us to the key issues for our meeting today:

How can we make better use of the instruments the United Nations has developed in the field of human rights?

How can they help the Security Council to better fulfil its potential as a conflict prevention instrument?

And shouldn’t the Security Council look at the human rights situation in individual countries much more regularly? 

True, it did so in the case of North Korea.

But, as we all know, it was anything but easy to convince all Security Council members that the meeting was necessary.

So we have to ask ourselves:

Can the Security Council really afford to regularly ignore the comprehensive reports prepared for the Human Rights Council in Geneva?

And shouldn’t the Human Rights Council’s special rapporteurs and commissions of inquiry be listened to here in New York much more often? 

Let me give you just one concrete example:

Reports had been circulating in Geneva about the difficult situation of the Rohingya for a long time before it escalated last year.

Could that development not have been anticipated earlier in New York too?

 Ladies and gentlemen,

Germany is seeking a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2019–2020 term. If our candidacy is successful – and I very much hope it will be – then we will work to improve the flow of information between Geneva and New York.

Because, yes, the United Nations is built on three pillars:

  • peace and security,
  • development and
  • human rights.

These areas belong together; they are not isolated from each other. But we need your practical proposals as to how we can strengthen the link between them.

Therefore I am looking forward to today’s discussion! 

Thank you very much.

The Federal Foreign Office on the situation in Armenia

lun, 04/23/2018 - 17:39

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (23 April) on the current situation in Armenia:

The Federal Government is closely monitoring the development of the domestic political situation in Armenia. The transition from a semi presidential to a parliamentary system is bound up with hopes and expectations in broad sections of Armenian society that should not be disappointed.

The non violent conduct of the demonstrations in Yerevan and other Armenian cities in recent days is a sign for us that Armenian society intends to shape its future peacefully and with respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Following the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, which was announced today, we call on all sides to exercise restraint and to be willing to enter into dialogue in the coming days.

Background information: 

Armenia has been undergoing a transition from a semi presidential to a parliamentary system since 2015. As part of this process, the Parliament will be accorded greater powers while the head of state will play a predominantly representative role. The final steps in this process were the election of the new President Armen Sarkissian on 2 March by the Parliament (Sarkissian took office on 9 April), as well as the election of the previous President Serzh Sargsyan as Prime Minister on 17 April. The election of the former President as head of government has triggered social protests in Armenia in recent days, prompting him to resign on 23 April.

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson on the clashes in Nicaragua

lun, 04/23/2018 - 15:38

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (23 April) on the clashes between demonstrators, government supporters and security forces in Nicaragua:

The German Government condemns the use of armed force in Nicaragua during the protests of the last few days. We call on all sides to refrain from violence immediately.

The German Government conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families of the many people killed. There is at least one journalist among the victims. We wish all those injured a speedy recovery. We expect Nicaragua’s Government to quickly instigate a comprehensive investigation into the deaths. 

The Government’s curtailment of press freedom is unacceptable. Journalists must again be allowed to report freely and without any restrictions as soon as possible.

The Government’s withdrawal of the controversial social insurance reforms can be a first step towards a national dialogue. All sections of society must be included in this dialogue.

Background information:

An increase in social insurance contributions as well as pension cuts triggered several days of violent protest with many deaths in Nicaragua. The country’s President Ortega has now withdrawn the social reforms.

Foreign Minister Maas before his flight to Toronto

sam, 04/21/2018 - 17:02

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (21 April) before flying to Toronto: 

In times of crisis, more than anything else we need strong international institutions and open dialogue. That will be the focus of my trip to Toronto, New York and Brussels.

In Toronto, I will discuss, among other things, the situation in Syria and in eastern Ukraine with the G7 Foreign Ministers. In the case of both conflicts, it is clear that we need constructive input from Russia to achieve a peaceful solution. However, in Toronto we will also explore long-term strategic issues, such as peacekeeping and conflict prevention.

This subject will also be on the agenda at the United Nations. During my talks in New York I will once again be working intensively to canvas support for Germany’s candidacy as a non permanent member of the Security Council. Germany is willing to assume responsibility and make an active contribution to peace and security in the world.

To round off the trip I will be attending the second Brussels Conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the region”. The focus will be on humanitarian assistance and aid for the people in the region. I will also reiterate our support for the peace process under the aegis of the United Nations. We urgently need a political solution to this conflict, which has gone on for far too long.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on North Korea

sam, 04/21/2018 - 13:30

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement on North Korea’s announcement that it will suspend its tests of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles with immediate effect:

I welcome this announcement as a step in the right direction. However, in order to enter into a serious political process towards the complete denuclearisation of North Korea, it is necessary for Pyongyang to follow this up with concrete steps and to disclose its entire nuclear and missile programme in a verifiable way. This demand is in line with the expectations of the international community.

Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the death of the Russian investigative journalist Maxim Borodin

ven, 04/20/2018 - 16:32

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (20 April) on the death of the Russian investigative journalist Maxim Borodin:

I am concerned about the way the death of Maxim Borodin, a Russian investigative journalist, is being dealt with. The local investigating authorities are proceeding on the assumption that it was an accident. However, Mr Borodin is said to have felt threatened prior to his death. I support the demand of Harlem Désir, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, namely that the circumstances of the death must be transparently and fully investigated. Russia must guarantee an impartial investigation into every aspect of the case.

Unfortunately, this has not always happened in the past. Last year’s murders of the journalists Dmitri Popkov and Nikolai Andrushchenko remain unsolved. The circumstances of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, too, have not been fully investigated. We continue to call upon Russia to solve these cases and better protect the work of journalists.

Background information:

The journalist Maxim Borodin died on Sunday in hospital. He is claimed to have fallen from the balcony of his fifth-floor apartment on 12 April. The circumstances have not yet been clarified. Borodin’s investigative reporting focused on, among other things, Russia’s operations in Syria, its role in the conflict in Ukraine, and private Russian security contractors.

Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the extension of Kirill Serebrennikov’s house arrest

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 18:04

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (19 April) on the extension of director Kirill Serebrennikov’s house arrest:

I am very disappointed by the further extension of the house arrest of internationally renowned theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov, who was arrested in August 2017. The fact that his house arrest has been constantly extended for eight months and will now continue until 19 July cannot be commensurate with the rule of law. I call for greater transparency with regard to the details of the allegations, which I have so far failed to comprehend.

In the present situation, we need more and not less dialogue with Russia. Mr Serebrennikov is a pillar of German-Russian cultural cooperation. A further extension or indeed a conviction would have a long-term negative impact on this dialogue.

Background information:

Renowned international theatre and film director Kirill Serebrennikov was arrested in St Petersburg on 22 August 2017 on charges of embezzling state funds. On 23 August 2017, he was placed under house arrest by the competent court until 19 October 2017 and forbidden from having any outside contact. His house arrest has since been extended to 19 July 2018. The general director of Serebrennikov’s theatre production company Seventh Studio Yuri Itin and the director of the Russian Academic Youth Theatre Sofia Apfelbaum are likewise still under house arrest while producer Alexei Malobrodsky is being held in custody.

Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to the German Bundestag in the debate on continuing the participation of German armed forces in the military mission EUTM Mali

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 18:00

– verbatim report of proceedings –

Mr President,

Fellow members of this House,

Today we are debating the EU Training Mission in Mali which aims to build the foundations to help the Malian security forces be less dependent on assistance from outside in the future and to enable MINUSMA to pass its military responsibility gradually to the Malian armed forces.

There are three key features of the EU Training Mission in Mali. Firstly, the mission is making a major contribution to stabilising Europe’s southern neighbourhood. Secondly, it is carefully designed to bolster cohesion and ownership in the Sahel region. And thirdly, our engagement in Mali is a prime example of an integrated and comprehensive approach which combines both civilian elements and military components.

Given its position and its links to neighbouring states, Mali is central to the stability of the entire Sahel region. If undesirable developments take root there, such as the spread of Islamism, organised crime or trafficking in persons, we soon feel the direct impact in Europe. We saw this for ourselves in recent years following the migration flows.

I call to mind that Mali was on the brink of being overrun by radical Islamists in 2012. Only the rapid intervention first of all of France and then the international community at the request of the Malian transitional Government was able to prevent this happening. Some progress has been made on stabilising Mali in the interim.

Nevertheless, our contribution to the stability of Mali and the Sahel region remains necessary, particularly now in the run-up to the elections and given the security situation which remains precarious.

The five Sahel states of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad have now joined forces in what they have called the G5 Sahel. The establishment of a G5 Sahel Joint Force is a very positive development and one that we and the European Union are supporting. The Joint Force is geared above all to fighting terrorism and organised crime in the Sahel region. Previously it had mainly been the United Nations, the European Union and France which had been active in this field. It is of paramount importance that a structure rooted in the region is going to tackle these challenges in the future.

Since 2016, EUTM Mali has been providing the G5 Joint Force with advisory services. Now it is time to take the next step in the process. EUTM Mali will provide more assistance as the G5 Joint Force builds up capabilities by seconding mission advisers to the headquarters of the Joint Force in Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad.

Ladies and gentlemen,

EUTM Mali is thus complementing what we are doing with partners in MINUSMA. With tailor made stabilisation and development steps, we are also helping strengthen state structures in the centre of the country and thus also public services. We are also investing in reconciliation projects and crisis prevention to work through past conflicts and consolidate the progress made. We are doing everything to ensure the people there can in the near future take control of their own affairs. Progress on setting up a police force with good relations with the citizens of Mali is essential for their security. We are thus also supporting police training in Mali with a European civilian police mission EUCAP Sahel Mali. Here we are pursuing the fundamental belief that organised crime is not something that should and can be combated using military means alone.

From November, Germany will assume the leadership of the EU training mission and thus shoulder additional responsibility. This example shows clearly the level of German support for Mali. We believe Mali has made progress. But Mali needs continued support on its journey to further stabilisation. EUTM Mali is making a central contribution. I thus ask you to approve the continuation of our participation.

Thank you very much.

Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a reception at the Embassy of the State of Israel on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of independence of the State of Israel

jeu, 04/19/2018 - 12:59

Federal President, Ambassador Issacharoff, dear Jeremy,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Yesterday evening at dusk, “Heritage of Innovation” began – the 70 hour programme with which Israel is celebrating throughout the country the 70th anniversary of its founding. Seventy years ago on this day according to the Jewish calendar, and on 14 May 1948 according to the Gregorian calendar, David Ben Gurion read out Israel’s Declaration of Independence in what was then the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. This was a Jewish dream come true.

Here in Berlin this evening we have the opportunity to raise our glasses together with our Israeli friends and the friends of Israel in Germany and to offer you our sincere congratulations on this anniversary. Ambassador, I would like to express to you my heartfelt thanks for your invitation today and for your very kind opening words. It is an honour for me to be here today.

Ladies and gentlemen,
As Foreign Minister I felt it was a particular priority for me to travel to Israel as soon as possible. Every visit to Israel is especially significant for a German minister. Its importance was all the greater only a few weeks before the major anniversary Israel is celebrating today, which is also a very special date for us Germans.

For the fact that Germany and Israel are bound by a true friendship 73 years after the crime against humanity of the Shoah and 70 years after the founding of the State of Israel is a wonderful gift for us Germans. Sometimes we feel that it is an undeserved gift. And for this reason we thank the numerous people in both countries who have allowed our friendship to flourish.

Ladies and gentlemen,
For me, the terrible crimes of the Holocaust committed by Germans against Jews do not only create an historic responsibility for our country. They also form a profound personal motivation for my political work. I regard it as a personal responsibility to ensure that Germany works to promote the existence and security of Israel. And it is a personal responsibility for me to ensure that we take a decisive stand against all forms of anti Semitism and racism and that we promote respect for human rights – also and specifically here in Germany with regard both to those who have always lived here and those who have come to us.

And I want to state very clearly that as long as Jewish schools and the synagogues in Germany require police protection, as long as young men are beaten up on the streets in broad daylight simply because they are wearing a kippah, as long as prizes are awarded for anti Semitic provocations, our country should be ashamed.
And this shows that even today, we must still take an outspoken stance against all forms of anti Semitism. In the case of anti Semitism in Germany, nothing should be dismissed as too trivial. Our responsibility to protect Jewish life will never end.

During my visit to Israel, I was particularly moved by my meeting with Holocaust survivors, who invited me to their Passover celebration at the AMCHA Centre in Jerusalem. We ate and drank together and joined together in singing. It was very special. I was impressed by how big hearted these people must be.
For they are living out what Amos Oz once expressed like this: “The past is always present and will always remain present; but we must remember that the past belongs to us, we do not belong to the past.”
With this in mind, we must keep the memory alive – at no point can we draw a line under it.

Ladies and gentlemen,
When a state celebrates its 70th birthday, it can still be considered young. Yet the past 70 years were by no means easy for Israel – the young state had a difficult youth and had to learn to stand on its own feet very quickly. My main hope for Israel is that the next 70 years will be peaceful, in both its internal and its external relations. I hope we will see peace in whose light the country will flourish even more. That is what David Ben Gurion always dreamed of. And he also said: In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles. Some say that peace in the Middle East would be a miracle. I, then, stand here as a realist in the sense of David Ben Gurion, for I believe in a just peace, in which Israel’s existence and security are guaranteed and Israelis can live alongside their neighbours in peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, we want to consolidate the friendship between our countries to an even greater extent and to show our people just how wide ranging our ties already are. To this end, we are working closely with the Israeli Embassy to support numerous events in Israel and Germany. We want to work to further deepen the numerous ties that already link us in the spheres of politics, art, culture, science and business. 

Ambassador, I would like to thank you and your staff most sincerely for your tireless efforts to achieve this on a day to day basis. This engagement, too, draws the people of our two countries even closer together. Thank you very much. 

Our friendship lives through the interaction between Germans and Israelis, with an awareness of the horrors of the past and with the desire to build a bright future for the generations to come. Our friendship shows that miracles in the course of history are possible. Let us do everything in our power to enable us to continue to experience this miracle.

Thank you very much.

Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to the German Bundestag in the debate on the current situation in Syria

mer, 04/18/2018 - 18:00

– verbatim report of proceedings –

Mr President,

Members of the Bundestag,

Fellow members of this House,

The conflict in Syria is now entering its eighth year. Well over 400,000 people have lost their lives. Millions of Syrians have had to leave their homes; a not inconsiderable number of them have come to Germany.

What began as peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the so called Arab Spring turned into a civil war and eventually a conflict which has now taken on international dimensions. This conflict, and the immeasurable suffering of the stricken population, are posing a test for the international community. Thus far, international conflict resolution mechanisms have failed. There is no other way of putting it. Had this not been the case, there would have been no need for the military action by France, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Assad regime has demonstrably and repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own civilian population. Innocent women, men and children have been murdered in the most unbearable manner with chlorine and sarin.

Of course, the utmost priority now is to ensure that the situation does not escalate further and, terrible as it may sound, to use the dynamics of the situation to relaunch the political process, which has become bogged down. Neither Geneva nor Astana has so far been able to bring lasting progress in the political process. The United Nations is the only institution and organisation able to shoulder such a process in the long term. However, after all that has happened in the past few years, we do know this: help is needed to get this process underway again. That is why we are currently making every possible effort to remove all the obstructions.

Firstly, we urged – both in NATO on Sunday and in the European Union on Monday – that new political talks be launched.

Secondly, we will be taking up the matter next week in the G7. I agreed with my Canadian colleague yesterday that we would put Syria on the agenda for the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Canada this coming weekend.

Thirdly, we are in very close contact with Staffan de Mistura. At bilateral level we are talking with our partners about how to put fresh momentum into a very intractable situation. First of all, step by step, we need to get the international partners back on board, and then together they will have to get the United Nations process going once again.

France, the United States, the United Kingdom, the partners from the region, Turkey and Russia will be crucial in this process. What is certainly true is that looking away can no longer be an option for us. People have already been looking away for far too long in this conflict.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The most urgent priority for the political process in the first instance must be to put in place, finally, a lasting, country-wide ceasefire and to secure humanitarian access, as has long been called for in UN Security Council Resolution 2401. In a second step, a sustainable solution which takes account of the legitimate interests of all population groups in Syria must be negotiated under the aegis of the United Nations. After all that has happened over the past few years, this will be particularly difficult.

All this should be done in accordance with the resolutions already adopted by the United Nations Security Council. These call for the formation of a transitional government, constitutional reform and, ultimately, elections. These will be the crucial points in the upcoming process.

Let me assure you that the Federal Government will use all available diplomatic means to help advance such a political process. This will include us naturally using our channels to Moscow to urge Russia to take a constructive stance. Without Russia, the political process will not succeed.

Russia, which is shielding Assad, must step up the pressure on the Assad regime if negotiations are going to bring any results at all.
We want to help the United Nations to take on an active and proactive role once more – because all conflict resolution mechanisms fall under its auspices.

In particular, we back its Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, in putting the early resumption of negotiations and the formation of a constitutional committee – on which agreement was reached even in the Geneva process – back on the agenda and making progress on these issues.

We will continue our huge engagement in humanitarian assistance for Syria. We have provided more than two billion euros so far. We will have to do even more, as we will confirm at the Syria conference in Brussels next week. I would be very pleased if this were to meet with the whole House’s support in the forthcoming budget debate.
However, I am equally firmly convinced that lasting peace in Syria is only possible if those who have committed or ordered the most serious human rights violations are called to account.

That is why Germany supports the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria established by the UN Human Rights Council. The Commission’s task now is to document war crimes in Syria and to have this documentation ready for future trials. Ladies and gentlemen, we do not want war criminals to escape punishment.

Finally, as we have already told our partners, we are prepared to provide very practical support, financial and logistical, for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, as we have done in previous instances.

Ladies and gentlemen,

the events of recent days have been a very tough reminder of how highly dangerous the situation in Syria is – and not only for the region itself. That is why we are doing our utmost to bring about a diplomatic solution. That is the only way to end the people’s suffering and bring lasting peace to Syria.

Thank you very much.

Foreign Minister Maas meets Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland

lun, 04/16/2018 - 15:08

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will meet Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at the Federal Foreign Office on Tuesday, 17 April. 

The focus of the talks will be German-Canadian relations as well as international issues, particularly the situation in Syria. Another item on the agenda will be Canada's G7 Presidency.

Germany and Canada: bilateral relations  

For a strong Europe that delivers. Speech by State Secretary Andreas Michaelis to members of the International Crisis Group

sam, 04/14/2018 - 18:00

Lord Malloch Brown,
lieber Wolfgang Ischinger,
distinguished guests,
dear friends,

I am most delighted to welcome all of you to the Foreign Office. When I look back upon these intense last few days, it seems most natural to me to have dinner with the International Crisis Group tonight.

Earlier this week, we flew to Washington to have talks with the Americans as the E3 about the future of the JCPoA – and of course so see you, Rob. Yesterday, I accompanied Foreign Secretary Maas to Oxford where we deliberated on how to react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. In between, I had an exchange with my French counterpart on how to move ahead with Minsk. Today, we dealt with the military response to Duma. And tomorrow, we will be back in London for further talks on Iran.

Crisis management all over the place - more than enough material for a passionate debate tonight, and more than enough work for the new Federal Government.

Yes, I am most eager to share my take on the JCPoA and on Syria with you. And yet, I would like to leave this for the Q & A session. Instead, I want to choose a different angle for my remarks, focusing Europe’s role in an increasingly crisis-ridden world rather than on individual crises.

After three years as Political Director, I do so because I am convinced that crisis management alone will not suffice in the years ahead. We have pitched too many tents and constructed too few lasting edifices. Too much ad hoc canvas and duct tape, too little institutional bricks and mortar.

This is why we are heading for the Security Council in 2019/20. This is why Europe must be at the heart of our Foreign Policy in the years to come.

The core of my argument about Europe has been summed up in Ralf Dahrendorf’s scathing words about our continent: “Europe has no real influence – at any rate, it has no European interest that could inform this influence.”

Dahrendorf’s remarks are even more topical now than they were when he made them two decades ago. With the Atlantic Ocean widening, with the list of our natural allies shortening, and with the international system growing ever more unstable, they force us to realize:

We can either shape the world ourselves or wait to be shaped by the rest of the world.

A focus on values alone, as we Germans like to underline in our foreign policy, will no longer be enough to enable us to stand our ground in a world characterized by economic, political and military egoism. The EU will have no real influence until it has defined its own “European interest” clearly. And without this definition of its own interest, it will simply not be able to project power.

To make overdue progress in defining European interest, we must come up with realistic, ambitious and convincing answers to three simple questions:

  1. Why should we want a strong Europe?
  2. What kind of Europe do we want?
  3. And what should Europe want internationally?

First question: Why do we need a strong Europe?

Brexit, the aftermath of the financial crisis, populism and nationalism – the very validity of the European Union has come under immense scrutiny in recent years, forcing us to come up with convincing answers to why European integration is in our best interest.

There is absolutely no need to discard the European dream of peace, freedom and prosperity. But if we want to win the fight against populists and nationalists, we may have to let go of a “Europe of dreams”. The vision of a “United States of Europe” has lost much of its credibility and appeal.

To address the wishes and fears of our citizens, we will have to make clear that our policy is not seeking to disband, step by step, the nation state to make way for a European Super-State.

We must focus on the reality of a Europe that safeguards the nation state as the locus of political and cultural identity. But we also need to make the case for a Europe that pools sovereignty when and where nation states by themselves cannot muster the strength that a unified Europe can bring to the table.

Both elements must be inextricably intertwined. Just like the two sides of our Euro coin. One bears Member States’ national symbols, the other one has the map of Europe and the European stars on it. One cannot exist without the other.

Instead of indulging in teleological debates about the finality of European integration, we should put the focus elsewhere: We want a strong Europe that overcomes internal struggle and stands united internationally. A European Union that convinces because it delivers.

Second question: What kind of Europe do we want?

Macron has reminded us that we must also make a decision on the shape of Europe.

From our point of view, the adequate approach is to think big. Look at the map: Germany is situated in the heart of Europe. We have a fundamental interest in a “big” Europe as the ultimate answer to the “German question” – not a reductionist approach towards a European core. This is true when it comes to security policy but also economically and culturally.

Surely, such a “big” Europe can only meaningfully act when it is not divided. We will thus have to accept with a new sense of realism that on many issues, we will only achieve a limited degree of integration. This does not preclude – quite the contrary - smaller groups to pursue further integration – especially on finalizing the Economic and Monetary Union together with France. But such groups have to remain open at all times to other European partners.

Maintaining cohesion in the European Union will also require overcoming the fault lines that have developed between the East and the West and the North and the South.

Within the European Union, we will seek to get our partners to the East, primarily Poland and the Visegrad states, back on board. To achieve this, we want to pursue a policy that brokers political compromises and balances interests across sectors. I refer to the central question of security, but also to migration and financial policy. Our neighbors to the East cannot be second class members. But that also means that we will take them up on their responsibilities - especially when it comes to questions of the rule of law.

Regarding the North-South divide, we too have to be willing to compromise. This is in our own strategic interest. This will require us to become more flexible in our financial policy without crossing internal red lines. When it comes to migration and security policy and protection of our common border, we also need fair European answers.

Third question: What should Europe want internationally?

Let me start with the European Union’s neighborhood. Europe‘s internal cohesion and its policies and politics beyond the EU’s external borders are inextricably linked.

Just look at our eastern neighborhood as one example. Given their massive security implications, our efforts to overcome the East-West divide within Europe cannot end at the borders of the European Union. They must include the members of our Eastern Partnership, particularly Ukraine and Belarus. And they have to aim at a shared security, a peaceful balance of interests and connectivity with Russia.

Regarding Moscow, we have to face grim realities with a new sense of realism. We may have thought after Crimea that relations could not be worse. What followed was Donbass, interference with elections, cyber attacks, Salisbury. Our relationship is turning increasingly adversarial.

Here, too, we must critically review policies that we have pursued for decades and that some of our partners have denounced as “Russia romanticism”. In today’s SPIEGEL, Foreign Secretary Heiko Maas makes clear that he is ready to do so. In the upcoming months, we will hammer out a balanced approach towards Russia, combining a clear stance on principles with the readiness to engage in dialogue and connectivity. It is clear that this new “Ostpolitik” must be European.

We must also develop the European Union into a strong actor beyond its neighborhood. What we have achieved in trade and climate policies shows what is possible. We must continue to develop our Common Foreign and Security Policy and shape a European agenda towards Asia and Africa. Above all, we will need to formulate a real European foreign policy towards those powers that have recently divided Europeans time and again.

This must include the United States whose 360 degree partnership we can no longer take for granted as we used to. This widening transatlantic gulf is not just the result of the 2016 Presidential elections. It has more profound structural reasons.

Against this backdrop, we must realistically review our traditional policies. As Europeans, we must assume more responsibilities for our own fate and for a rules based international system. We should soberly assess of areas in which we may be at odds with one another - possibly permanently. If need be, we must make clear to our allies at what point they would be overstepping the boundaries of our solidarity.

At the same time, we will need to invest more in our transatlantic partnership – bearing in mind that even though we may be drifting apart, we are still each other’s closest ally in almost every respect. The solidarity that we have expressed after Duma is only one example.

All this will be a tough job for diplomatic architects, brick layers and carpenters. We must proceed brick by brick, while we keep an eye on the crises around us. We will need tenacity, courage and a whole lot of creative realism. And we will, of course, depend on the sharp analysis and policy recommendations that the International Crisis Group is renowned for.

Thank you very much.

Foreign Minister Maas on Syria

sam, 04/14/2018 - 13:42

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (14 April) on the airstrikes in Syria:

 War has been raging in Syria for seven years. Time and again, we have seen that the Assad regime has committed war crimes and also used chemical weapons against civilians, as all available information indicates was recently the case in Douma, too.

Chemical weapons are banned internationally. Their use is a war crime that must lead to consequences in order to ensure that these terrible events are not repeated.

The United Nations Security Council has already been blocked for months on Syria, including on the issue of the use of chemical weapons, by Russia’s actions. In the current case, too, the Security Council was unable to fulfil its role.

In this situation, the limited attack on Syrian regime military structures by France, the United Kingdom and the United States as permanent members of the Security Council sent an appropriate and necessary message, which will help to make it more difficult for suffering of this kind to be caused again in the future.

We too call for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to be tasked again with carrying out a thorough and independent investigation of suspected uses of chemical weapons. We also call for effective access for humanitarian aid.

At the same time, this conflict and its development, intensity and dimensions are an urgent reminder to us that only a political settlement will bring lasting peace. That is why we will continue to do our utmost to support the work of the United Nations in the Geneva process. The political process needs new momentum and the will of all those involved to now reach solutions. Only this can pave the path to enable the people in Syria to find a new future in security and peace.

Foreign Minister Maas in Brussels

ven, 04/13/2018 - 11:56

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is today (13 April) in Brussels. He will be holding political talks with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, the First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and the President of the S&D (Socialists & Democrats) Group in the European Parliament, Udo Bullmann.

The discussions will focus on European issues and current international developments.

Speaking in Brussels, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said:

In the wake of the Brexit decision, and given the developments we are seeing in our Central and Eastern European neighbours, ensuring the cohesion of the European Union is a major shared goal. And all the discussions about reform that are going on within the Union must not be a matter for negotiations exclusively between two states, but must be a project for all Member States, and everyone must be on board.

Federal Foreign Office on renewed missile attack on Riyadh and other cities in Saudi Arabia

jeu, 04/12/2018 - 18:05

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (12 April) on yesterday’s missile attack from Yemen on the capital of Saudi Arabia and two other cities:

The disastrous humanitarian situation in the country and the most recent missile attack on Saudi Arabia make plain how urgent it is to find a political solution to the Yemen conflict.

We condemn the renewed missile attack on Riyadh and other parts of Saudi Arabia. There can be no justification for them. The attacks only serve to exacerbate the situation which is already difficult and threaten to undermine the mediation efforts being undertaken by Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Special Envoy. He continues to have our full support in his endeavours.

We call on the parties to declare an immediate ceasefire and engage in negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. The Yemen conflict can only be resolved by political means.

Background information:

On 11 April, missile attacks were again launched from Yemen on the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, and on the cities of Najran and Jizan. According to Saudi Arabian sources, air defence forces were able to intercept the missiles.

There were earlier missile attacks on Riyadh on 4 November and 19 December 2017, and again on 25 March 2018.

Federal Foreign Office on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

jeu, 04/12/2018 - 16:22

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson today (12 April) issued the following statement on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Developments in the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – the increasing violence in many parts of the country, the doubling of the number of internally displaced persons within just a year, the fact that more than 13 million people are suffering humanitarian distress – are causing us great concern.

It is important, therefore, that the humanitarian donor conference convened by the United Nations does take place in Geneva tomorrow (13 April). The stricken population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in urgent need of help. The Federal Government will engage both in humanitarian assistance and in political efforts with its international partners to give the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the prospect of more peaceful and stable development.

In the face of the massive humanitarian emergency in the country, we call on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to do everything in its power to support the humanitarian aid workers.

The elections scheduled for 23 December can change things for the better in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the Government must now live up to its responsibility to ensure that these elections do take place – and that they are both fair and credible and involve all political actors wishing to participate. The country’s constitution, UN Security Council Resolution 2049 and the political transition agreement of 31 December 2016 all point the way forward here.

Statement by the Federal Foreign Office on the OPCW report on the Skripal case

jeu, 04/12/2018 - 15:41

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (12 April) on the report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the Skripal case:

On 11 April, the OPCW presented its report on the findings of an independent analysis of the substance used in the Skripal case to the UK. The report confirms the findings of the UK’s analysis. At the UK’s request, the OPCW has published a summary of the report.

Once again, we would like to expressly welcome the fact that the UK involved the OPCW from the beginning and is working to ensure the highest possible level of transparency. On the basis of its own independent analyses, the OPCW has confirmed the nature of the substance used, which poisoned three people.

Based on the chemical analysis of the substance used, the UK has provided us with detailed information on why it is very probable that Russia was responsible and why there is no plausible alternative explanation. We welcome the fact that a special meeting of the OPCW Executive Council will be convened on 18 April at the UK’s request. Russia is now called on to finally play a constructive role and to answer outstanding questions.

Background information:

The UK requested that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) provide an independent analysis of the chemical substance used in the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal on 4 March.

A team from the OPCW collected its own environmental and biomedical samples between 21 and 23 March, which it then had analysed in several OPCW designated laboratories.

Peter Beyer on his appointment as Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation

jeu, 04/12/2018 - 13:23

Peter Beyer issued the following statement today (12 April) on his appointment as Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation in the Field of Intersocietal Relations, Cultural and Information Policy:

I am very pleased to be appointed Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation. I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue playing an active role to help shape this key sphere of German foreign policy. Since my election to the German Bundestag in 2009, transatlantic relations have been the focus of my parliamentary work in the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Alongside European integration, it is relations with the United States and Canada that form a central pillar of our foreign relations. The United States is our most important trading partner outside Europe. The North Atlantic Alliance will continue to be a strong partnership and play a decisive role in our security and our prosperity. That is why it is crucial to underscore time and again the shared basis of our relations and to consolidate and extend our cooperation. Particular importance attaches to intersocietal dialogue. For me, one of my central tasks is going to be to promote this dialogue and act as a bridge-builder between the partners.

I am keenly aware here of the historic role of the United States, particularly for us in Germany. The United States, Canada and Germany are natural and strategic partners in many fields stretching from business to security and energy.

Find out more:

Transatlantic relations