Connected in many ways
“We are neighbours in the European Union, we are partners, and we are connected in many ways,” said Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel when she received Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Berlin. The issue of Afghanistan would be a major talking point for the two heads of state, said Merkel at a joint press encounter immediately beforehand. “We have all seen that this painful end involving the military evacuation of large numbers of people is not yet complete, of course: Germany still has numerous local staff we want to get out of Afghanistan,” Merkel stressed.
Afghanistan: focus on the humanitarian situation
With regard to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan after the takeover by the Islamist Taliban, the Federal Chancellor said: “On the German side, we will do everything we can to address the threat of famine and other humanitarian issues, including the question of internally displaced refugees.” The Federal Government has made additional funds available to support the work of UN organisations still in the country.
In this context, the Federal Chancellor mentioned today’s conference of interior ministers at EU level which was to focus on the issue of displacement and migration resulting from the situation in Afghanistan. “Our position here is to give as many people as possible an opportunity to receive humanitarian aid close to home after leaving the country. Indeed, our Foreign Minister is on a trip right now, so that will certainly be a subject we will be addressing today.”
Pandemic and climate protection
The coronavirus pandemic and its management would also come up in the talks, said the Federal Chancellor. In Germany, the current challenge was to “convince as many people as possible to get vaccinated”, said Merkel.
In the area of global climate protection, Merkel and Kurz would be discussing the “Fit for 55” package of measures presented by the European Commission, she said. “It is already foreseeable that the consultations on this package have the potential to impact significantly on our economic situation, of course, so Germany and Austria certainly have a great many common interests here,” the Federal Chancellor explained.