- During a visit to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, British Foreign Minister Hunt appeals for German willingness to compromise during the Brexit negotiations.
- For decades, Germany and the United Kingdom have been united by common values and opponents.
- Opponents like Russia were already sensing their opportunity, which is why Britain could not be "just any third country".
As a greeting, Norbert Lammert first of all provides clear conditions. He was never a "special lover" of referendums, says the former president of the Bundestag. Due to the experiences in Great Britain he feels rather confirmed. Lammert is now head of the CDU-affiliated Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and as such has the British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt as a guest. The Briton has an appointment with fellow Heiko Maas later in the day, but he explicitly wanted a forum to say a few basic things about German-British relations five weeks before Brexit. The British is about two things. In the now really final phase of the negotiations he wants to appeal to German willingness to compromise, but he also wants to prepare for the increasingly probable case that the negotiations go awry. It is not yet clear how big the damage will be, but the Briton has come to limit it.
"To which treaties or organizations our two countries join or which they may leave," says Hunt, "our friendship is based on something much more important and enduring." This is the message of a speech, the basic tone is set by a reference to the airlift during the Berlin blockade, were involved in the American and British aircraft. Already then – so shortly after the Second World War – one had been united by common values and common enemies, says Hunt.
"Germany and the UK appreciate the same freedoms and values, respect the same fundamental rights and are exposed to the same dangers, not simply connected by institutions, but by the convictions that led to the founding of these institutions," he says, summing up German-British friendship. Both countries shared the belief in democracy, openness and equality before the law. And both are advocates of pluralism. These ideas were shared before the British accession to the European Community in 1972 and will continue to do so after the exit in 2019. This is a response to a letter to the editor, the CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the SPD leader Andrea Nahles, the leaders of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, and other German politicians in January in the Times had published. Great Britain re-established Germany as a sovereign nation after the Second World War. For that one is thankful, wrote the German politicians. The United Kingdom and its traditions would be missed.
That's why the British should know, "We want from the bottom of our hearts that they stay." Hunt reiterates this letter as "wonderful," but at the same time expresses his strong demand that the British should now be accommodated in the negotiations. A "proper" Brexit is of paramount importance in the face of global power shifts. Opponents like Russia already scented their opportunity. Given common challenges, Britain can not be "just any third country". After all, European security is indivisible. There is also a sense of annoyance over the Federal Government's halt to the delivery of military equipment to Saudi Arabia. In a letter to Maas, about the mirror Hunt claims that this jeopardizes "Europe's ability to fulfill its NATO commitments." In addition, British companies were affected, the fighters and rockets with deuschen components could not deliver to Saudi Arabia. It was agreed, Hunt said in Berlin, that the war in Yemen would have to be ended, but it was precisely for this that Britain's "strategic relations" with Saudi Arabia were useful.
Maas, however, affirms the German delivery stop. "The attitude of the Federal Government is that we are currently not supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia and will make future decisions depending on how the development in the Yemen conflict," said the SPD politician after his conversation with Hunt.
Just a "simple and important change" in the "backstop"
In the Brexit negotiations, Hunt now sees the Europeans as their duty. The withdrawal agreement would only require a "simple and important change" to the "backstop" to ensure that customs checks between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland would not be necessary. Then be confident that the lower house agrees. Only minutes later, it is announced that there is new trouble in London. Three MPs have left the ruling Tories.