Steinmeier urges trust-building to end crises in Ukraine, Middle East

Renewed dialogue and trust-building are needed to solve the complex crises faced by the world today, including the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the UN Security Council Monday.

Steinmeier met the council in New York to present the key priorities of his country's the 2016 chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Germany will act as head of the OSCE until the end of the year.

One of the international group's main tasks is to implement a ceasefire and broker peace in eastern Ukraine.

Steinmeier said the OSCE, which has a special monitoring mission in Ukraine, remains "deeply concerned over the continuing violations of the ceasefire" in the country and called on Russia and Ukraine, both currently members of the council, to abide by the terms of the Minsk peace agreements meant to end the conflict.

"I call on both sides present in this council to live up to their responsibilities," he said.

Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, said that cooperation at the organization "hasn't been a key unifying factor" and accused other member states of "geopolitical egoism."

Steinmeier called for confidence building among countries noting that with increased military activities by Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, all of which are member states of the OSCE, there was a "high risk of military incidents" between those countries.

He warned against looking at current crises as if the world were "reliving the Cold War."

"The world of today is different, its conflicts are of a new kind - more complex, with more actors, more conflicting interests," Steinmeier said.

Evoking the negotiations that lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Steinmeier said that while "you can't transfer a security architecture to another region," he hoped the OSCE could be instrumental in bringing peace to the Middle East.

The German foreign minister has praised the OSCE as a necessary "platform of dialogue" in difficult times. The 57-member bloc is the only security organization that has both the United States and Russia among its members.

Steinmeier is to stay in the US until Tuesday evening. After speaking at the UN, he is scheduled to visit Washington DC, where he will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Conflicts in the Middle East, particularly the Syrian civil war, are set to be high on the minister's agenda during his visit.

Last update: Mon, 29/02/2016 - 19:11

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