EM Germany Weekly Round-Up | week ending 13/02/2015
EM Germany’s weekly round-up summarises the past week’s key European issues in a brief press review, which also includes a look at EM Germany’s activities and topics trending globally on Twitter. German version here.
The week’s highlights in print, at EM Germany and on Twitter
07/02-13/02/2015 – Dramatic events didn’t just keep the diplomatic and economic worlds in suspense this week. Greece’s new Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, caused alarm and repercussions on the stock markets with his speech before the Greek parliament on Monday. Focus’s headline read “rescue programmes have failed”. Greece has not plunged into recession, Tsipras said, and announced that an agreement has been reached with the other member states to overcome his country’s crisis. Following his speech share prices fell dramatically (Der Spiegel). On Wednesday, Eurozone finance ministers held talks on continuing the Greek bailout – as yet without results. All eyes are now on the Eurogroup this Monday.
The week’s other big topic was the Ukraine crisis. Events came thick and fast – growing violence in Eastern Ukraine, sanctions against Russia that the EU wants to postpone, US President Obama mulling over the delivery of arms to Ukraine (Focus), culminating in tense, marathon negotiations in Minsk. Anyhow, a ceasefire was agreed on paper. “Agreement after 17 hours“, wrote the Tagesschau on Thursday, after long negotiations between heads of state Petro Poroshenko, François Hollande, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Minsk. “I am under no illusion, we are not under any illusion: there is still a lot of work to be done. There is, however, a real chance to make things take a turn for the better”, commented Chancellor Merkel in the German news magazine Tagesschau. In a statement from the Federal Foreign Office Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier specified that the agreement is not a comprehensive solution to the problem, but it is at least a step towards it.
All these events overshadowed climate talks which continued in Geneva, in preparation for the 21st United Nations Climate Summit in December in Paros. The EU has yet to make its position clear – this ought to be clear by 25 February.
Germany was in mourning on Wednesday for the funeral service of former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker. During a live transmission of the state ceremony in Berlin Cathedral, the country was able to say goodbye. Around 2,000 guest, including Chancellor Merkel, Federal President Joachim Gauck and mourners from neighbouring European countries such as Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and the former Polish President Lech Walesa, who paid their last respects to von Weizsäcker (Zeit Online).
The security situation in Ukraine, the crisis in Greece and counterterrorism after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s offices were, naturally, all key topics for the informal European Council which met on Thursday (Zeit Online). European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set the agenda (Spiegel Online): “It is not about the new Greek government, it is not about the old one either. It is about the Greek people. That is what we have to remember”. The outcome of the Council meeting will be reported on during EM Germany’s debriefing on Monday; the programme can be found here.
On Twitter, the hashtags #Minsk, #MinskSummit and #Waffenruhe can be used to follow the summit in Minsk. The virtual tug-of-war about the crisis in Greece can be followed online via #Grexit, especially intense since PM Alexis Tsipras’s speech at the start of the week.
Not only the usual ‘family photo’ of heads of state can be found via #EUCO and #EMU. EM Germany’s debriefing can be followed on Twitter using #EBDdebrief. The hashtag for the European Council is #EUCO. Hits for the Council’s agenda points can be found using #Grexit, #Ukraine, #UkraineConflict, #Minsk and #Griechenland.