German FM urges citizens to leave Ukraine during Cairo press conference

Ahram Online , Saturday 12 Feb 2022

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has urged German citizens to leave Ukraine unless their presence was strictly required.

Annalena Baerbock
Germany s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks at a press conference with her Egyptian counterpart (unseen) in Cairo, on February 12, 2022. AFP


Baerbock made the announcement during a press conference in Cairo on Saturday following mounting concerns that Russia may invade its neighbouring country.

During the joint press conference held with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Baerbock said Germany will keep its embassy in Kiev open, but will reduce the number of its diplomatic staff as well as its staff in German institutions, such as KFW bank and GIZ Germany.

The German Foreign Ministry stated on Saturday it will close its consulate in Donetsk, east Ukraine.

Baerbock added that Germany is working with its partners to resolve the Ukrainian crisis by diplomatic means.

During the press conference following her meeting with Shoukry, Baerbock said that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is scheduled to travel to Moscow this week for talks.

Shoukry said at the press conference that Egypt is closely monitoring developments in Ukraine, stressing that it is imperative to achieve stability and security in that part of the world.

Ukraine and Russia are the leading exporters of wheat to Egypt. In 2020, Egypt topped the list of importers of Ukrainian wheat.

An increasing number of countries, prime among which is the US, have been calling upon their nationals to leave Ukraine in the past 24 hours following Washington’s warning on Friday that Russia may launch a serious assault at any moment against Ukraine.

Baerbock is currently on her first visit to Cairo after assuming her position as foreign minister. The visit comes as part of her Middle East tour that kicked off on Wednesday and includes Israel, Palestine, and Jordan.

On Saturday, Baerbock met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and held talks with her Egyptian counterpart Shoukry.

Besides the Ukraine developments, the Egyptian and German foreign ministers discussed a range of issues including bilateral ties, military relations, and regional affairs.

Regarding the recent developments in Libya, Shoukry reiterated that Egypt believes that there is not a military solution to the crisis in Libya, adding that Egypt fully supports inter-Libyan dialogue.

He added that Egypt is maintaining communication with all Libyan parties and powers to hold the elections that meet the aspirations of the Libyan people, to unify Libya’s institutions, and to provide security, stability, and protection to Libyan territories.

Baerbock said Germany and Egypt are sparing no effort to resolve the Libyan crisis, adding that it is important to support the endeavours of the UN special envoy to Libya.

 “We should not ignore Libya or make its importance reduced due to what is happening in Europe, but instead we must intensify the political dialogues in Egypt,” said Baerbock.

Shoukry said that the Palestinian cause is a central issue for the Arab world and that Egypt has worked to reach a complete, fair, and comprehensive solution where a Palestinian state can be declared with its capital in East Jerusalem.

Baerbock pointed out that Germany appreciates the mediation role Egypt plays.

During the press conference, Baerbock said she suggested Egypt chairs the next COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November and that it co-chairs with Germany this year’s edition of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

The two top diplomats discussed the human rights situation, according to Shoukry, with Baerbook saying that her government would issue legislation this year regarding human rights criteria for arms exports.

She did not elaborate in the press conference on the criteria, beyond saying that human rights will play a big role in this legislation, adding that human rights include economic and social rights in addition to political and civil rights.

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