During the first physical meeting since the start of the COVID‑19 pandemic, Germany’s Foreign Minister presented the priorities of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting also focussed on the situation in Turkey.
The EU Foreign Ministers have only had virtual meetings since March. Today, they returned to Brussels for the Foreign Affairs Council. This was also the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers since Germany took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July. Foreign Minister Maas therefore took this opportunity to present Germany’s foreign policy priorities for the coming six months. Our guiding principle: Only if Europe speaks with one voice will its words carry weight in the world at large.
The plans of Germany’s Presidency include the strategic further development of relations with China, a review of the EU’s policy on Russia and strengthened relations with Africa, especially through the planned EU‑AU summit at the end of October. All in all, Europe should become more capable of taking action and effectively safeguard its values and interests. This is about both the Common Security and Defence Policy and the protection of human rights. Maas would like to work with his colleagues to drive forward a horizontal EU sanctions regime to protect human rights.
Turkey: Signals of détente needed
The EU’s relations with Turkey was one of the focuses of the Council today. It is clear that this relationship is strategically important as well as complex. While good relations are important to Germany and the EU, Ankara needs to send clear signals of détente in the eastern Mediterranean. During the urgently needed talks, the EU and its High Representative Josep Borrell will play a central role and Germany will do everything it can to support him. Turkey is also a key player in the conflict in Libya. Above all else, it is crucial now that we all support the mediation efforts of the United Nations. For the conflict in Libya is threatening to enter a dangerous new stage: the country is at risk of splitting. To prevent this from happening, the massive military support for both sides must end. Just like other countries, Turkey pledged in Berlin to stop supplying arms. It must live up to this commitment.
Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Foreign Minister Maas announced that the EU Foreign Ministers would also discuss relations with Hong Kong and China and the consequences of the new security law.