In these tension-filled weeks in Europe’s neighbourhood, direct dialogue is more important than ever. Heiko Maas, along with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, is taking part in the renowned GLOBSEC 2020 Bratislava Forum, the most important forum for foreign and security policy in central and eastern Europe. Maas will be talking about the EU’s global leadership role in the post-COVID-19 era. In a panel with Jean-Yves Le Drian and the foreign ministers of Slovakia, Greece and Romania, the German Foreign Minister will be discussing how the EU can strengthen its sovereignty. It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified the tectonic shifts in international relations as well as the competition between global and regional powers and alliances. That is why cohesion and a united stance have now become even more important for the EU.

Direct talks with Turkey

While at the conference, Maas will also meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu for bilateral talks. Following the opening of Varosha beach in Cyprus, the path of détente embarked on by Cyprus, Greece and Turkey has not become easier. At the European Council last week, the EU showed Turkey a clear road towards constructive partnership. However, this requires further steps towards de-escalation.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will also play a role in Bratislava. Azerbaijan and Armenia must stop hostilities immediately as a matter of urgency to enable a return to the negotiating table. This requires restraint from outside as well as constructive international mediation. The Minsk Group of the OSCE is ready to play this role and, working together with the co-chairs from the US, France and Russia, has made it clear to both sides that the fighting must stop so as to bring an end to the civilian population’s suffering.