Correspondent in Berlin
Germany is already withdrawing its last thousand soldiers from Afghanistan and it wishes to prepare the ground so that a dangerous vacuum of peacekeeping presence does not arise in the country. The German Defense Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), declared during an official visit to Istanbul that Berlin supports Turkey’s intention to strengthen its role in Afghanistan once NATO withdraws. “Once the NATO mission is completed, the security of diplomatic representatives will have to be guaranteed, so that infrastructure and investment work can be carried out,” said AKK, in the presence of his Turkish counterpart. Hulusi Akar and referring specifically to ensuring the security of the Kabul airport. “We have agreed that the first step will be to protect diplomatic missions and that in a first phase the Kabul airport and basic infrastructure will have to be protected. And I have told him that we would be grateful if Turkey takes steps to assume an important role in that task, “the German minister reported, adding that” we are not talking about fighting, if there are problems they will have to be resolved within the framework of international law.
Chancellor Merkel discussed this matter this Friday with Macron, at the dinner that both shared in Berlin and with which they resume face-to-face contacts, replaced by videoconferences since the pandemic prevented travel. They both want to take the issue to the next European Council of June 24 and 25, in which they consider relations with Russia and Turkey as two great challenges. “On the one hand, there are still disagreements, on the other we all depend on each other,” advanced the difficulty of the European debate, “but there are aspects that we have to deal with together anyway, such as the immigration issue, or the issue of the future of Libya and the future of Syria. “I fully agree with everything the Chancellor has said in this regard,” Macron supported her position, “in relation to Turkey, the positions of European countries, Greece and Cyprus must be clarified, as well as a common strategic European position on the Mediterranean. Eastern and as regards Libya and the Caucasus. ‘ Merkel and Macrón will also have the opportunity to discuss the matter again with the highest representative of US diplomacy, Antony Blink, who will meet with the two separately next week to finish adjusting positions after Joe Biden’s visit to Europe. Turkey and Russia will be part of that agenda.
Steps on the right track
The reunion of the heads of government of Germany and France, three years after they made that high-sounding announcement of their intention to “re-found Europe”, has served to take stock of the purpose formulated in Meseberg, on June 19, 2018. Both have congratulated themselves on the progress and, although they acknowledge that the pandemic has crossed over in the project, they consider that “many steps have been taken on the right track.” The balance, in terms of prosperity, security and technology “is positive,” they both agreed. Precisely the pandemic “has led us to develop new coordination mechanisms, which are not yet perfect but which work,” Merkel said. Both insisted on the need to “keep a close watch against new mutations” and the German Chancellor expressly referred to the Delta variant, “Much more aggressive and contagious.” In this sense, he pointed out that the evolution of the pandemic is encouraging, “but the experience of the United Kingdom forces us to remain vigilant.”
At this point in the remarks, the prominent journalists at the Berlin Chancellery wanted to know the opinion of the two about the fact that the final of the euro, as planned so far, will be played in London. “Well, since France has won the last game, let Emmanuel answer this,” Merkel fumbled, who by the way a few minutes later confessed to the same journalists, already in the hall, that she will see the Germany game today but on television, given that the pandemic makes travel inadvisable. “We are observing the evolution of the Delta variant in the United Kingdom and it is clear that we must maintain very high vigilance to avoid the spread of these mutations,” agreed Macron, who recalled that his country maintains the maximum restrictions on travelers from the United Kingdom , just as Germany continues to do. Macron explained that, in any case, “some countries have opened their borders before for reasons related to the tourism sector and they may have to close them again,” he said in a veiled reference to Portugal, “but it is important that countries coordinate these reopening of borders ”and pointed out that the UN should be the one to coordinate the closures at a global level with fixed criteria. “We in the EU do not have reliable information on vaccination rates in other non-EU countries or on the incidence of mutations in other continents,” Merkel reinforced her argument that international organizations with greater resources should take care of establishing criteria.
Biden’s trip to Europe
Later, during dinner, they both had a chance to share their impressions on Joe Biden’s recent trip to Europe, all of them very positive. They agreed on the perceived “new climate of cooperation” and welcomed the peaceful and Atlanticist presence of the new US administration. Merkel bothered to point out that, in this new closer relationship with Washington, bilateral relations between Washington and Paris or between Washington and Berlin do not prevail, but the strategic relationship in NATO and the G-7. “The growing Chinese force in the Pacific is a challenge and that means that we Europeans have to show ourselves stronger and that we must assume certain tasks,” said the German Chancellor, who expressly mentioned the FCAS aircraft, in which Spain participates.
Another of the joint positions that they will defend in the European Council will be to keep the dialogue open with Russia, despite the great differences on security issues and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria according to Merkel. “Russia is a great challenge for us, but it is also a continental neighbor of the EU and we must ensure that all hybrid attacks are stopped,” he stressed, “we need dialogue with Russia if we want security and stability in the EU, however difficult let it turn out. “We have just seen the President of the United States meet with the President of Russia and have an open dialogue, which is very important to us Europeans. Let’s do the same! ”He added.