'We cannot perform miracles': Germany to EU

19th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

19 December 2006, Brussels (dpa) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday played down expectations of any major breakthrough in European or international developments during Berlin's presidency of the European Union in the first six months of 2007.

19 December 2006

Brussels (dpa) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday played down expectations of any major breakthrough in European or international developments during Berlin's presidency of the European Union in the first six months of 2007.

"We cannot perform miracles," said Steinmeier who presented his government's EU presidency priorities to the Brussels-based international press corps.

Though no quick-fixes were expected, the German foreign minister insisted Berlin would deal with key challenges including the fate of the EU's failed constitution and global hotspots like the Middle East in a "serious fashion."

Speaking in German, Steinmeier said he wanted Europe to recover its confidence and speak with one voice on international issues. The EU should also be preparing now for long-term challenges including climate change, he said.

Turkey would continue to be a key issue during the German presidency, with the focus on opening negotiations with Ankara on "two to four" new chapters and pursuing efforts to establish direct trade links with Turkish northern Cyprus, he said.

EU governments agreed last month to partially freeze talks with Turkey in eight out of 35 negotiating areas after Ankara refused to establish transport links with EU member Cyprus.

But emphasizing their determination to continue accession talks with Ankara, EU governments vowed to start talks on economic issues with Turkey and also promised to end the economic isolation of northern Cyprus.

Steinmeier said the EU would keep a close watch on volatile Middle East politics and focus on revitalizing peace efforts by the so-called Mideast Quartet, which includes the EU, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

"We are very worried about the dangers of escalation in the Middle East," he said, adding that the EU would push for contacts between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Steinmeier also promised a new EU focus on energy-rich Central Asia and said he wanted to place the EU's changing relationship with Russia on a stronger footing through negotiation of a new cooperation pact.

Poland is blocking talks on a new agreement with Russia over Moscow's ban on meat exports from Warsaw.

Steinmeier predicted no German initiative to lift the EU's 17- year-old arms embargo on China during the next six months.

He also watered down expectations of a revival of the stalled Doha trade talks but said Germany would support efforts to iron out differences between members of the World Trade Organization.

DPA

Subject: German news

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