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German Federal Foreign Minister States “We Must Fight For Europe”

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“We must fight for Europe!”

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, the Federal Foreign Minister has reaffirmed the importance of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in times of crisis. The OSCE is important he said, “to renew dialogue, to rebuild trust, to restore security”. Germany took over the chairmanship of the OSCE at the start of 2016.

“We decided to take on the chairmanship of this organisation in turbulent times. Unfortunately, these are also turbulent times in Europe. With the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the issue of war and peace has returned to our continent – an issue that seemed to have been resolved, at least in Europe,” said Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Forty years after the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, 25 years after German reunification, after the end of the Cold War, we believed and hoped that peace had been permanently achieved on our continent and that the borders would no longer be called into question.

Renew dialogue, rebuild trust

“During times of new uncertainty, times in which the ghosts of the past have come back to haunt us – ghosts we believed we had banished for good – we need an organisation like the OSCE. And we want to use this organisation,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier continued. “But our dialogue cannot and must not hide the fact that key OSCE commitments were and are being broken – as in the case of the annexation of Crimea by Russia.”

But what goes for our chairmanship also goes for the future of the OSCE and peace in Europe. “Not talking to each other during times of crises cannot be the answer! We will not reach a solution this way. In fact, we will not even manage to de-escalate conflicts!”

First warning to Europe

” A veritable concoction of crises is boiling over in Europe,” said the Federal Foreign Minister. “The euro crisis, the economic crisis, rampant right-wing populism, the Brexit debate, the refugee crisis.” Europe, he continued, can only withstand the storms if we stand together in the EU rather than going our separate ways.

“The forces pulling us apart in Europe are so enormous that we should show our resolve even here at the MSC and work hard together to ensure that we have the same EU at the time of next year’s MSC as we do today. This would be a great achievement. We must fight for Europe!”

During the following discussion, the Federal Foreign Minister once again explained Germany’s position. “We must not cut ourselves off, we must step up our engagement. That is the only way to help defuse the conflicts.”

Hope for Syria

“Never in history have we been dealing with as many hotspots and other challenges all at the same time,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry, who underlined the importance of the fight against IS terrorism. He reported that the terrorist organisation IS is being pushed back along a broad front, and that its importance is also waning in terms of material and financial support.

We will defeat IS, said John Kerry, but we must step up our efforts even further. It is important to resolve the civil war in Syria, he continued, because that will be the yardstick against which we are measured. John Kerry expressed his hope that the new agreements reached in Munich will be effective. The first objective must be to provide humanitarian support to the people on the ground. Relief supplies can now be launched. The next step will be a ceasefire. “This is a hinge point” in this war.

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also underlined the hope that Thursday’s agreement will mark a genuine start of efforts to end the violence in Syria. “The national differences are vast, and must be reconciled. We must bridge gulfs and not let setbacks discourage us.”

{Source: Federal Government of Germany}

[photo credits-featured image: Military base at Perevalne during the 2014 Crimean crisis.  – By Anton Holoborodko (Антон Голобородько) ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]


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