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German FM Steinmeier and Russian FM Lavrov Hold Cordial Meeting

Aug. 17, 2016 (EIRNS)—German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a cordial meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Aug. 15, where they discussed the war in Syria and the Minsk Agreement on Ukraine, and jointly participated in the Opening Ceremony of the German-Russian Summer School, titled, "Development of the Energy Sector: Modern Challenges at Work Now."

The account of Eduard Popov in Fort Russ Aug. 15 differed from accounts in other press sources, in reporting of the friendly atmosphere of the Steinmeier-Lavrov meeting. Popov says that both diplomats are political heavyweights; that Steinmeier is more popular than Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, and that it is quite possible that he expects to run as the lead candidate of the Social Democrats in the September 2017 Bundestag elections. The author says it is well-known that Steinmeier visits Moscow and meets with his Russian colleagues, and even President Putin, far more often than Chancellor Merkel, and that his approach to NATO and sanctions is "far more flexible than that of even other Social Democrats," let alone the CDU.

The fact that the meeting was conducted using names and the Russian familiar form "ty" (you), shows an attempt to build an alternative to the Normandy Format, says Popov, and that "[P]erhaps this separate alliance outside the Normandy Quartet is capable of transcending situational frameworks." Popov points out that "It is probably no coincidence" that German politicians’ criticism of Moscow and Lavrov’s position on a humanitarian corridor from Aleppo has collapsed, and Lavrov’s harsh anti-Ukrainian statements (made in diplomatic terms) did not meet with any strong objections from Steinmeier.

Popov opines that the meeting in Yekaterinburg was "a step in comparing notes and networking, with the potential winner of Bundestag elections which are not too far off." The article concludes that Steinmeier

"is not a pro-Russian politician. He is a pro-German politician and a professional, and as such Russia understands and is interested in him. What Russia failed to do with Gerhard Schröder (due to the SPD’s defeat in elections), might succeed with Steinmeier"

if the Social Democratic Party wins the elections.

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