Angela Merkel and Vladimir Zelensky in Berlin
First official visit of the newly elected Ukrainian President to GermanyJune 20th, 2019
Between the first and second rounds of the presidential election in Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Vladimir Zelensky in Berlin, who won the elections by a wide margin.
“It was a very good meeting,” he summed up his first talks with Merkel on Tuesday, June 18, cheerfully emphasizing that he did not see anything unusual in the fact that the Chancellor was accepting the President of Ukraine. However, the first official visit of the new Ukrainian president to Germany, which, as it should be according to the protocol, was held on the highest level, almost began with an emergency.
On the square in front of the office of the Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Zelensky walked around the guard of honor. When the orchestra of the Bundeswehr played the German anthem, the chancellor was clearly not feeling good. Angela Merkel swayed and was shaking. It lasted about a minute, but everything turned out fine in the end. After the anthem, she led Zelensky into the building as if nothing had happened. Later, at a press conference following talks with a guest from Kiev, Merkel confirmed that she was uncomfortable in the sun (the temperatures in Berlin are around 30 degrees Celsius), but then she "drank at least three glasses of water and now everything is in order."
“I was near,” the president of Ukraine joked in his comedian role. “So the chancellor has always been completely safe.”
During his first personal meeting with the new Ukrainian president, spokesman for Chancellor Steffen Seibert spoke on the eve of his visit. Angela Merkel wants to know how Zelensky sees his presidency, how he intends to act in domestic policy, how he regards reforms in recent years. “Seibert also mentioned his willingness to know what Zelensky intends to do in regards of the situation in East Ukraine.
Angela Merkel could satisfy her curiosity in the morning by opening the Bild newspaper. Approximately the same questions were asked by Zelensky reporters. "I want the Ukrainians all that he promised them: to end corruption, to make the Ukrainian policy honest and open, to unite the country, bring peace to it and improve the lives of normal people," he said in an interview with Bild.
Much the same as in an interview with the Bild newspaper, Zelensky spoke at a joint press conference after talks with the German Chancellor. Angela Merkel, in turn, confirmed the unchanged position of Germany, "ready to support Ukraine on its path to economic well-being and democracy."
The expansion of sanctions against Russia was not discussed at the talks, according to their participants, but also about their lifting. Merkel said that as long as there is no progress in resolving the situation in the east of Ukraine, EU sanctions should remain in force. She added that the sanctions imposed in connection with the Crimea "can be canceled when the Crimea returns to Ukraine."
But Vladimir Zelensky took advantage of the podium - the offices of the Federal Chancellor to directly contact those German politicians and representatives of the business circles of Germany who are in favor of the abolition or liberalization of the sanctions regime. “I hope you will hear me,” Zelensky exclaimed, turning to television cameras, “we did not start this war, but we hope that we can finish it as soon as possible.” Sanctions, he believes, is "the only way to resolve this conflict without bloodshed."