German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with President Kersti Kaljulaid in Kadriorg on Tuesday afternoon. The heads of state discussed bilateral relations, developments within the European Union, and matters relating to security as well as the Estonian presidency of the EU council.
Germany and Estonia had plenty in common in the area of European politics, President Steinmeier said. He thanked Estonia for taking on the presidency of the Council of the European Union earlier than scheduled, and commented that it was already apparent that the presidency would have a lasting effect on the union, both in terms of digital policy as well as in other areas, like the migration issues experienced in the current crisis.
According to the German president, the two countries also agree that their democratic and liberal economies need to be defended, both against disinformation, an area where Estonia was ahead of Germany in terms of its experiences, and against political hurdles that needed to be overcome.
Differences were apparent in the matter of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Asked by ERR how he would explain Germany’s continuing opposition to sanctions imposed by the United States aimed at the Russian-German project to Eastern European states, Steinmeier said that the project needed to be seen in its broader European context.
“When we talk about new infrastructure, it’s completely clear that the legal norms in place need to be observed. It needs to correspond to them. I know that there is criticism of this project in Northern and Northeast Europe and that it is regarded cautiously, but I’ll say that it is in Germany’s interest that naturally it gets legal confirmation from the European Union as well that it corresponds to legal norms. And naturally we can’t accept anything or act against these norms,” Steinmeier said.
Kaljulaid pointed out that the European Commission had asked the member states for a mandate to negotiate about the concept of Nord Stream 2. Discussions of the topic within a work group had begun, and at this point it wasn’t even clear what the specific subject of the negotiations would eventually be.
The German president’s response remained elusive as well when he was asked to comment on the decision of his fellow Social Democrat and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder to accept a position on the board of Russian oil giant Rosneft: Steinmeier answered that this was an issue on which the president of Germany wouldn’t make any public statements.
Answering to a question asked by a German journalist present at the press conference, President Kaljulaid said that not only the Baltic states were following the Russian military’s Zapad exercise, but that the NATO allies in general were following them as well.
Steinmeier is also meeting with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas on Tuesday and will lay a wreath at the War of Independence Victory Column in Tallinn. For the presidents the day will end with a dinner in Maarjamäe. Tomorrow Wednesday Steinmeier will give a lecture at the Estonian Academy of Sciences, where he will also meet with other government members as well as members of the Riigikogu.
Editor: Dario Cavegn