News from Berlin

Britain's Foreign Secretary Hammond in Berlin

September 12th, 2014
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News from Berlin – The new British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, paid his first visit to his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Berlin, on Thursday, 11 September. The focus of the meeting focused on bilateral relations and international issues such as the situation in Iraq and the fight against terrorist militia-group, ISIS.

The two foreign ministers took some time for a trip into history at the beginning of their encounter: Steinmeier expressed to his British counterpart first some historical documents from the Political Archives of the Foreign Office to the German-British relations. This was followed by an intensive exchange between the two foreign ministers.

Speaking to the press, the German foreign minister later said that their meeting also concerned British domestic politics, as they looked upon people outside the European continent with special interest at this present moment: the UK currently faces important decisions: in a just under a week, there will be a referendum on the national independence in Scotland. A week before the referendum to take place on 18th September, the polls in Scotland predict a close outcome of the vote.

When asked by a British journalist how he stands on the forthcoming referendum, Steinmeier spoke in favour of the preservation of the United Kingdom. Steinmaier thinks that a German foreign minister should not interfere with British domestic politics. However, he freely admits the he would be more comfortable if Britain were to remain united. Hammond emphasized at the joint press encounter with Steinmeier that it was important for him to quickly travel to his inauguration in Berlin. This is an expression of the importance of German-British relations and the key role that Germany plays in the context of the debate on EU reform.

Another topic of conversation was the difficult situation in Iraq. Steinmeier stressed that Germany had “taken responsibility” in the fight against ISIS. He referred to the work carried out by German humanitarian assistance towards those threatened by the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria, as well as to the support of northern Iraq through the provision of military equipment and weapons worth around 70 million Euros.

The British Foreign Secretary was pleased by the German decision to make a “strong contribution” to support Iraq in the fight against ISIS. For him, it was of “central importance” that Germany takes a “leading role” in defending the security of democratic nations. Other topics covered by the two foreign ministers were the situations in Ukraine and the Middle East.

News from Berlin – Berlin Global