Secretary Antony J. Blinken and German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck Before Their Meeting

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a great pleasure to see my friend, the vice chancellor, here again at the State Department.  I think it was almost exactly a year ago —

VICE CHANCELLOR HABECK:  It’s – yeah, exactly.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  — we had an opportunity to meet.  A few things have happened since then.  But one thing that stands out above all others is the extraordinarily close partnership and collaboration between Germany and the United States, something that we’re grateful for every day.

We see that powerfully in Ukraine as both of our countries have worked closely together with other allies and partners to make sure that Ukraine has the security assistance it needs to defend itself, the economic assistance that it needs to keep its economy going, and of course the humanitarian support that its people need faced with the ongoing aggression from Russia.  Of course, Germany has taken in hundreds of thousands, I think even a million, refugees from Ukraine and has been a leader in this effort over the last almost year now.

I also have to applaud the extraordinary work that Germany has done, particularly Vice Chancellor Habeck, in helping to move Europe off of dependence on Russian energy.  And this is having the dual benefit not only of reducing and ultimately eliminating that dependence, but also speeding up the green energy transition and all the benefits that would bring to both of our countries.  So we’re grateful for this partnership.

Let me just say one other thing that’s unrelated but I think important.  I know we’re both incredibly moved by the images that we’re seeing coming from Türkiye and Syria with the horrific earthquake that these countries experienced over the last couple of days.  We see the images of collapsed buildings.  We see people – thankfully, some still being pulled alive from the wreckage, children, but incredible suffering.  Both of our countries are working very hard to support Türkiye and the Syrian people in their hour of need.  We’ve deployed more than 150 search and rescue personnel.  The U.S. Agency for International Development has been leading in this effort.  In addition, through the humanitarian partners that we fund in Syria, we’re providing assistance to people in Syria to try to recover from the earthquake.  But I know both of our countries are focused on this human tragedy that’s taking place right now in Türkiye and Syria.

But, Robert.

VICE CHANCELLOR HABECK:  Well, thank you very much, Antony.  Thank you very much for having me once again here.  Yes, let me start with the last remarks you gave.  I discussed almost all day economic issues, debt reduction act, and the press attention was also focused on these issues.  But thinking about the tragedy in Türkiye and Syria gives this a certain (inaudible).  Of course, these are important issues, but thousands of people are losing their lives, have lost their lives, and this is the real tragedy and the real situation where we have to help now, and we will do that.  I thank the U.S. and I’m proud for giving and supplying help, and I can say the same for Germany.  Whatever is needed, and we can – we can give a supply is to be given.

Last year when I visited the Secretary, we discussed mainly two issues.  The first one was the military situation in Ukraine due to the Russian aggression, and the second one was energy questions and energy issues.  And the first one, I must honestly say is still there’s an ongoing war in Europe.  Due to the bravery of the Ukraine army and the incredible willingness to stand together of the Ukraine people, there is a chance that Ukraine can be successful in this war, and I would like to thank the American partners especially that they are giving so much support.

This is a fight for freedom and democracy in Ukraine, and without the American help it would not be possible to achieve this situation as it is now, but of course it is a sheer catastrophe.  Putin is slaughtering – is slaughtering so many men and life over there – of course mainly Ukraine people, but also he is fighting a war against his own countrymen.  The soldiers dying there definitely had better in mind than dying for Putin in an unnecessary and unjustified war.

The second issue we discussed last year was the threat of a lack of mainly natural gas supply of Russia to Germany and Central Europe, and the worries were that if that’s going to happen, then the European and German economy would collapse.  And there is no Russian gas supply and the economy has not collapsed.  We achieved security in the supply chain.  We – we had – we rebuilt three new LNG terminals in a short amount of time.  The storages are full, the prices are going down.  They are still too high, but they are not in the mid of the winter where they were afraid or supposed to be.  The inflation is broken.

So I think that Europe, and Germany and Europe, has shown what it can achieve if it wants to achieve something.  And with this spirit we go on the talks.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, everyone.

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originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS