“There is no alternative to stable relations between Moscow and Berlin”
“Russia and Germany both have an important role to play in our common European house. We have lived together in peace for over 75 years,” stressed Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at a meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday. In order to preserve peace in Europe, it was essential that equal and binding rules applied to everyone that all parties could rely on, she said.
These common rules also included the European Convention on Human Rights, by which all states commit to abiding by decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights, the Minister continued. “And here we’re also mindful of the case of Navalny and that of Memorial, the human rights organisation recently banned in Russia.”
Despite fundamental differences of opinion on many issues, Germany had a “fundamental interest in stable relations with Russia”, Baerbock said – and this applied in many areas of cooperation, she added, whether science and culture, trade and investment, renewable energies or tackling the climate crisis, something that was increasingly being felt in Russia, too.
Return to the negotiating table
With regard to the current situation at the Ukrainian-Russian border, Baerbock reiterated the German government’s willingness to engage in a serious dialogue on mutual agreements and steps that would enhance security for everyone in Europe. “We’ve started to discuss what these steps towards greater common security might look like. In our view, the OSCE and NATO-Russia Council talks were a first meaningful step in this direction,” said Baerbock. The basic principles of our peace and security order remain the underlying benchmark, she continued.
Baerbock welcomed Russia’s fundamental willingness to engage in a solution-oriented dialogue based on mutual respect – also with a view to possible future meetings under the so-called Normandy format. The Minister stressed that in order to de-escalate the situation in the Ukrainian-Russian border area, it was now important to “get the Normandy process back on track and finally make progress on implementing the Minsk agreements.”
Revival of the Normandy format
The Federal Government is committed to reviving the Normandy format, which involves joining together with France to attempt to support European efforts to de-escalate the situation. The Foreign Minister said: “Those of us who bear political responsibility have no more important duty than to protect our people, above all from war and violence.” She went on: “We can best achieve this through successful talks – not against each other, but with each other.”
“Solidarity with Ukraine and its territorial integrity”
Foreign Minister Baerbock met her Ukrainian colleagues Dmytro Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv the previous day. She stressed that the humanitarian situation in the Donbass was of great concern. “We finally need to make progress on implementing the Minsk agreements again,” she said, noting that diplomacy was the only way to defuse the current highly dangerous situation.
Germany is prepared to engage in serious dialogue
After her meeting with Kuleba, Baerbock stressed that Germany stood in solidarity with Ukraine. The Minister made it clear that she had not talked about the security of any other country more than that of Ukraine in recent weeks. “Every time our message was the same and I’d like to emphasise it again here in Kyiv today: solidarity. European solidarity with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Baerbock affirmed that “any renewed aggression” on the Russian side “would have a high price” – this was the unequivocal commitment of the EU, the G7 and NATO, she said, adding: “We will do everything in our power to guarantee the security of Ukraine and security in Europe.”
Germany was prepared to engage in serious dialogue on what we can do to achieve greater security for everyone in Europe, said Baerbock: the benchmark remained the basic principles of the Helsinki Final Act, she said, which had ensured peace and security in Europe over the past 50 years. These include territorial inviolability, the free choice of alliances of states and the agreement to refrain from the threat of force as a political means.
Support for Ukraine
On her visit to Kyiv, the Foreign Minister was particularly keen to make it clear that Ukraine was not on the sidelines in terms of the diplomatic efforts being made: “We are not holding talks on Ukraine without consulting Ukraine,” said Baerbock. In addition, she offered Ukraine support in strengthening its cyber resilience.
In Kyiv, Foreign Minister Baerbock also met German representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) and the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, Mikka Kinnunen. The OSCE plays a key role in monitoring the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine.
Germany’s contribution to Ukraine’s security is multi-faceted. Injured soldiers are treated in Germany, for example. According to Baerbock, Germany is also supporting Ukraine in building a military hospital.