Euro and Europe’s Future on Agenda for Foreign Minister Westerwelle in Washington
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Secretary of State Clinton held a joint press conference after their bilateral talks at the State Department on January 20. (© picture alliance / dpa) The Arab Spring, the situation in Iran and Syria and general security issues were the wide-ranging topics discussed by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle during his trip to Washington. He also addressed the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the stability of the euro.
In this connection, the Foreign Minister was especially keen to explain Germany’s position in the United States and to make it clear that “we don’t believe that it’s possible to tackle a debt crisis by running up more and more debts. Rather, budgetary discipline and structural reforms are the only way to enhance competitiveness.”
Numerous talks on Europe
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle met with IMF Director Lagarde in Washington, DC, on Thursday. (© picture alliance / dpa) Foreign Minister Westerwelle also categorically rejected the claims made during the American primaries that Europe was sliding into socialism. “We put an end to socialism 20 years ago – with the help, among others, of the United States,” he stated after his talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on January 20. The Secretary of State said that the US supported Germany’s course and welcomed Germany’s leading role in the efforts to resolve the debt crisis.
The debt crisis was also the main issue discussed during Westerwelle’s meetings with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde. Following his talks with Lagarde, Westerwelle said that he had stressed how important a stable eurozone is to Germany. “We are convinced that our single currency has to be protected,” the Minister stated.
Keynote address on European policy
The Minister stated at the start of his two-day visit that he wanted to make it clear in the United States that Europe was a strong and dynamic continent “with every confidence in itself.”
He also had an opportunity to explain this position to a wider audience when he gave a keynote speech on the euro and Europe’s future to an audience of around 200 at the Brookings Institution.
Discussion of international issues
Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa) However, the European debt crisis was not the only topic which featured prominently during the Foreign Minister's trip. He also discussed numerous other international issues with his US counterpart, Secretary Clinton. Transatlantic cooperation was essential at a time of global change and major political challenges, stated Westerwelle after the talks. Along with Europe, the United States was Germany’s most important partner and ally, he went on to say. Among other things, Guido Westerwelle and Hillary Clinton discussed security issues as well as the themes of the next NATO summit, due to take place in Chicago this May.
The Chicago summit is to further develop the decisions made by the last NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010 – above all, in the spheres of missile defence and the review of NATO’s deterrence and defence posture. It will also examine the Afghanistan strategy post 2014 and NATO’s partnerships in the Mediterranean region.
Iran, Syria, North Africa
Other key issues discussed were developments in North Africa, the situation in Syria and the conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme. Guido Westerwelle briefed Hillary Clinton on the discussion in Europe about new sanctions against Iran.
As the Iranian Government was still failing to comply with its international obligations and to make its nuclear program transparent, the only course of action was to impose new sanctions which hit the funding of the nuclear program, said the Minister. “The door for serious dialogue remains open but a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to us,” he stressed.
Hillary Clinton and Guido Westerwelle also agreed on the “deeply worrying situation” in Syria. President Assad’s regime had to be stopped as quickly as possible, stated Guido Westerwelle. What is more, “the UN Security Council must take a clear stand and condemn the violence committed by the Syrian regime.”
The wider region and the situation in the countries transformed by the Arab Spring were also discussed during the talks between Guido Westerwelle and Hillary Clinton. Guido Westerwelle explained the concept of the transformation partnerships intended to help these countries master the political and economic challenges facing them.
The German Foreign Minister’s Washington visit is part of the regular exchange between the German Government and the US Administration on international issues. The United States is Germany’s closest ally outside Europe. Guido Westerwelle and Hillary Clinton last met in December 2011 at the Afghanistan Conference in Bonn and at the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels.