Never before the cohesion between NATO European allies and partners have been more important than at present where Russia not only plans to subjugate Ukraine as a self-determined country, but also does everything possible to divide our Alliance. This is why it is important for me, especially now, to make my first official visit to Greece and Turkey, which had to be postponed earlier.
In Greece, I will visit one of our closest partners in Europe – in our support for Ukraine, in our European resistance against Russian aggression and also in the fight against the climate crisis and in the expansion vigorous use of renewable energies. Many Germans are familiar with Greece as a holiday destination, but too few are aware of the truly enormous guilt that Germany brought to itself there during World War II with the atrocities of the Nazi occupation. It is important for me to keep the memory of it, because it is vital for a good common future. Last but not least, I want to know what we, the European Union, need to do to ensure the security of our common external border, including for people who risk their lives seeking refuge here. The task which Greece is taking on in the name of all of us is immense and deserves all our solidarity.
Security in the Mediterranean will also be an important topic of my talks in Istanbul and Ankara. Here too, our message is that the problems must be solved by talks, not by an escalation of tensions.
Turkey is an indispensable partner and is more closely tied to Germany than almost any other country. The hearts of millions of people beat for our two countries. In this context, it is important to me that we do not drift further and further apart politically. As in any close relationship, we will speak candidly about each other – about Turkey’s mediation in the Black Sea, which offers millions of people a glimmer of hope that an even worse hunger crisis can be averted. About joint plans in NATO. But, of course, I will also touch on the issues in Turkey on which we sometimes have fundamental differences, including the military interventions in northern Syria, human rights and the fulfillment of the country’s obligations as member of the Council of Europe. Here, too, we must ensure that our paths begin to converge again.