Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, who has a history of expressing anti Russian rhetoric relevant to Russia’s presence in Syria as well as an alleged cyber attack on the German Foreign Ministry which Maas says that he ‘has to assume stemmed from Russia’, has turned an about face. He has traveled, for the first time, to Moscow to discuss international diplomacy, the Iran nuclear deal, peace talks on Ukraine, and Syria.
Maas met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, where he encouraged Russia to leverage its influence with Iran to help spur the Middle Eastern state in remaining committed to the nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned earlier in the week.
Maas then declared that Germany was interested in bringing back the peace talks on the Ukraine, together with other European partners. Maas also pointed out that the Syrian conflict can’t be settled without Russia, before contributing a wreath to the tomb of the unknown soldier, which is a dedication to Russian soliders who died fighting the Germans in WW2.
Deutsche Welle reports:
Germany’s top diplomat Heiko Maas and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov both called for the nuclear deal with Iran to be upheld on Thursday, during Maas’ first official visit to Russia. The appeal marks a rare moment of unity between Moscow and Berlin just days after US walked out on the 2015 accord.
In Moscow, Maas urged Russia to influence Tehran and make it stick to the deal, which aims to limit Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. The German foreign minister also said he was seeking details from the US on its plans for future sanctions against Iran.
US President Donald Trump has shrugged off pressurefrom allies to keep the deal in place and called the accord “defective at its core.” However, leaders of the UK, France, and Germany all contacted Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in the attempt to salvage the accord.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel called Rouhani on Thursday to reaffirm Germany’s commitment to the deal “as long as Iran continues to fulfil its obligations,” said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert. Merkel also said she was ready to negotiate about Iran’s ballistic missiles and involvement in Syria and Yemen.
Angela Merkel is also set to visit Russia next week.
New start on Ukraine?
Visiting Moscow on Thursday, Germany’s top diplomat Maas suggested reviving the peace talks between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Lavrov responded by saying Russia was “ready to consider” this offer.
Maas also called for “honest dialogue” with Moscow and for Russia to be included in global diplomacy, despite its differences with Berlin. Maas admitted that the conflict in Syria “cannot be solved without Russia.”
The German diplomat also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, which is dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II.
Lavrov said on Thursday that he “appreciated” Maas’ traveling to Russia so soon after becoming foreign minister. He said talking face to face was much better than “microphone diplomacy,” in an apparent jibe at Maas’ comments on Russia in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel.
Maas tough on Russia
Maas has struck a more forceful tone on Russia than his predecessor and fellow Social Democrat, Sigmar Gabriel.
In the Spiegel interview, he has called Russia an “aggressor” and accused the Russian government of being “increasingly hostile,” which has been met with criticism from his SPD party.
Also in a bid to get Russia to assume a leadership position relative to preserving the nuclear deal, and by extension, the European economy, Merkel got on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he mutually voiced his concern over Trump’s action, and where Merkel also came forward about the situation in Syria. i24News International reports:
Putin has previously voiced “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision and Russian officials have said they would work with European partners to preserve the agreement.
“The importance of preserving the deal from a point of view of international and regional stability was highlighted,” the Kremlin said in a statement following a call between Putin and Merkel.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria as well as Merkel’s planned working visit to Russia next week, Moscow said Merkel has previously said Germany and its European partners would “do everything” to ensure Iran remains in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
Coinciding with Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear development, and western sanctions relative thereto, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s visit to Moscow and German Chancellor Angela’s phone call with Putin, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, is set to travel to Moscow next week to discuss European, particularly German, energy cooperation efforts with Russia, notably the Nord – Stream 2 project, as the insecure future of the Iran nuclear deal and the resumption of American sanctions introduces some uncertainty for the future of the German energy sector.
BERLIN, May 11. /TASS/. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier has confirmed that he will visit Moscow at the beginning of the next week, he said in an interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk released on Friday.
“I will follow my colleague [German Foreign Minister Heiko] Maas, who attended negotiations in Moscow yesterday. I will be there on Monday and Tuesday, and Chancellor [Angela Merkel will visit Sochi – TASS] during the week,” Altmaier said.
German news agency DPA earlier reported that Altmaier plans to visit Ukraine and Russia on May 13-14 and chiefly discuss energy issues there, in particular the implementation of the Nord Stream – 2 project and Ukraine’s role as the a transit corridor for Russian gas to Europe.
The issue of German-Russian economic cooperation will dominate the Moscow visit. DPA reported that there is uncertainty in German business circles regarding the sanctions policy. Altmaier will also discuss in Moscow preparations for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Sochi on May 18, where she is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Altmaier earlier headed the German Chancellery and is believed to be one of Merkel’s most trusted advisors.
Meanwhile, Merkel has not only reiterated Germany’s commitment to the nuclear deal, but also its word in multilateral agreements. Speaking to the Catholic Convention in Münster, she stated the importance of standing by international agreements while echoing her disappointment with the Trump withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Deutsche Welle reports:
She’s the most high-profile guest of the “Katholikentag,” Germany’s Catholic Convention: Chancellor Angela Merkel came to the five-day event in Münster as it turned its attention to international politics on Friday.
Merkel called the US decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal “a cause of great concern,” in a panel discussion and emphasized the role of international cooperation when confronting crises.
“If we always step away from multilateral agreements as soon as we don’t like something about them, that would be a bad message for the world. We want to strengthen multilateralism,” the chancellor said.
She said the US decision was a “serious incident” but not a reason to call the entire transatlantic relationship into question, adding that she would “continue to support transatlantic partnership.”
All of this, of course, in a lead up to Merkel’s visit to Sochi on the 18th with a view to urging Moscow to take up the leadership that Trump has abdicated on the international playing field by working out a way to save the nuclear deal as well as confidence in multilateral agreements. As a bonus, Merkel is promising to revive constructive diplomacy between Europe and Moscow, notably as it relates to energy cooperation, the Syria situation, and peace talks over the Ukraine.
Deutsche Welle observes:
German-Russian relations had soured because of alleged Russian cyberattacks and the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. But the US President’s hardline policy on around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran has intensified the search for common ground in Berlin and Moscow. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 18, and on Friday morning the two spoke on the telephone.
“The importance of preserving the deal from a point of view of international and regional stability was highlighted,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the call.
Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that the two leaders had agreed to push for the other signatories to the deal — France, the UK and China — to continue abiding by it. Merkel also touched on the future of the agreement in remarks she made in the city of Münster on Friday.
“I believe it is not right that a deal which was agreed, which was voted upon in the UN Security Council and unanimously approved, should be unilaterally terminated,” Merkel said, adding that the US decision “damages trust in the international order.”
The foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK will meet with their Iranian counterpart next Tuesday in Brussels. But equally important, if the JCPOA is to survive, would be coordination with Russia and China, since those two nations can offer Tehran the biggest incentives to stay in the nuclear deal. …In Sochi, Merkel is likely to lobby Putin to give Tehran guarantees of future economic cooperation in return for abiding by the provisions of the JCPOA.
…Trump’s unilateralism — and in particular a brusque tweet by the new US ambassador to Germany — have been interpreted as attempts by Washington to impose its policy and law beyond its borders. That has led some commentators to diagnose a breakdown in solidarity between the US and Western Europe.
The Financial Times newspaper postulated that Tuesday “may be remembered as the day the US abandoned its belief in allies.” Those sentiments were echoed by Elmar Brok, a conservative German Member of the European Parliament.
“We have to acknowledge that on these and other issues that Western unity is crumbling, and there is no partnership,” Brok told a German radio station. “This means that we now have to try, together with the Chinese and the Russians, to keep the Middle East free of nuclear weapons.”
Trump, in pushing his ‘America First’ campaign is doing the exact opposite. In reality, it translates to ‘America alone’, as his maneuver on the Iran deal demonstrates that America is not only concerned with its own interests first, while it possesses a position of global influence, but that this means that America’s interests are of priority, even if that means chopping off cooperation with its allies with moves that are detrimental to their interests.
But it’s not just America’s European allies who recognize this. As American belligerence continues to develop ever more aggressively against those regimes which America possesses little dominance over, those nations have further begun to ban together to work with each other as they become further ostracized by the West.
America has decided to conduct a trade war with China, and threatened actual war, hence China as developed its One Belt One Road initiative to unify the region in trade matters, and is presently implementing its own petroyuan to rival the dominance of the American dollar in the oil trading business.
America has decided that it doesn’t want to be friends with Russia, hitting it with multiple rounds of sanctions and threats, hence, Russia is therefore developing its options out with its neighbors.
America has decided that it will punish the Venezuelans for having their own oil sector and refusing American domination, hence they are developing a crypocurrency to conduct trade with Russia, and potentially China.
It’s a foreign policy of narcissism, where America perceives its ‘exception’ as if its own interests are the only ones that matter at all, and to hell with everyone else. This mode of action not only harms allied interests, but is pushing them into the zone of those which America is at opposition, namely, China and Russia. Once America pushes someone out of the way, they begin looking around for other options, to pursue their interests with or without America, and this time, for Europe, particularly in this case Germany, without America.
This is American exceptionalism in action. It means, ‘except’ America.
As America abandons its position of leadership on the global playing field, it is opening up the way for Russia take up the torch and bring peace and stability where America brings division and destabilization.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.