Germany wants to 'normalize' relations with Russia – Baerbock
Germany is still intent on normalizing relations with Russia, the country’s top diplomat has said before a planned visit to Moscow, insisting that recent bilateral talks can’t be expected to solve every problem at once.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock downplayed the breakdown of talks between Russia and the West, arguing that productive diplomacy between the two sides is still very much possible.
“There have been no joint talks with Russia within the framework of NATO for two years,” she explained. “I don’t think anyone came to the negotiating table and thought: ‘We haven’t talked to each other for two years, now we’ll solve in a few hours everything that hasn’t been discussed in the last few years.’”
The foreign minister, who will be traveling to Moscow and Kiev this week for negotiations, emphasized that solving problems diplomatically is rarely easy. “Diplomacy, especially in times of crisis, is characterized by the fact that it requires a lot of perseverance, a lot of patience, and strong nerves,” she said. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that there is no further escalation.”
On Monday, Baerbock indicated that she will be arriving in Moscow with a “long list” of issues to discuss, and said that she will make clear Germany’s position. She named science, culture, trade, renewable energy, and climate issues as possible subjects.
“Cooperation between civic communities is particularly important to us,” she went on. “I also want to talk to my Russian colleague about these opportunities and how we can create the conditions to use them more effectively,” she added, saying that she will also listen attentively to her interlocutors in both Moscow and Kiev.
Baerbock’s comments come after a series of talks held last week between diplomats from Russia, the US, and NATO on the subject of security in Europe. Moscow has requested written guarantees that the US-led military bloc will not expand into Ukraine, an agreement that Western leaders have said is off the table. Meanwhile, American intelligence services have been warning for months that they fear an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin has dismissed as misinformation.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that he expected the Western powers to make a written reply to Moscow’s security proposals within a week.
In an exclusive television interview with RT in December, Lavrov said Russia was eager for diplomacy with Germany, but that some factions in Berlin were more interested in lecturing Moscow than finding common ground. “The approach they have that one side is doing everything perfectly, and the other side should change its behavior altogether – well, you understand that that cannot happen,” he commented.