Q. – Firstly, what’s your analysis of Mr Putin and his intentions? Initially, Mrs Merkel thought it would be possible to hold dialogue with him, but apparently it’s over. Do you believe Mr Putin is alone or are there perhaps other forces, figures in the Kremlin who think it may be necessary to find a way out of the crisis? The second part of my question is Europe: in your opinion, are the Europeans united on what must be done, or are you alone with Mr Steinmeier and others in favour of a policy led by two countries? What’s the policy, given that the Poles and the Balts are much more aggressive in their attitude than Germany and perhaps you?
THE MINISTER – (…) On Ukraine, from the outset we’ve always established a link with the quest for security and peace. When you asked me about Yemen, what we’re looking for is security and peace, even if it’s a long process. On Syria we’re looking for a political solution, security, peace and the territory’s integrity too. The issue of integrity, of the restoration of states, is an absolutely decisive issue, because at the moment we’re seeing a weakening of states and the rise of groups that want to regard themselves as states when they’re not states, particularly terrorist groups. But the weakening of states and the shifting of states – which have been institutionally created to bring communities together – towards sectarianism are very dangerous phenomena.
On Ukraine, our goal – there again, there’s often a very big gap between the ideal and the reality, but that gap is for politics – is to have a Ukraine that can ideally have good relations with both the European Union and Russia, because all this is driven by geography. That’s not currently the case. I won’t go back over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which we regard as illegal, whatever the historical circumstances. And we also have a special situation in eastern Ukraine.
In the framework of the “Normandy format”, France and Germany have been working to secure a de-escalation. Our general attitude towards Russia in this Ukraine crisis is a combination of firmness and dialogue. (…)./.