Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion is heading for his first official visit to Germany to discuss pressing international issues with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Global Affairs Canada announced Friday.
During his meeting with Steinmeier at Villa Borsig, the German Foreign Office’s guest house at Lake Tegel, in Berlin, on Monday, Dion will discuss how to “respond to global challenges, such as the fight against terrorism, the refugee crisis, the situation in Ukraine and climate change.”
“Germany is a close friend of Canada and has shown great leadership on the challenging issues facing all of us today,” Dion said in a statement. “I am looking forward to increasing our already very strong collaboration to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.”
Germany has played a leading diplomatic role in mediating
between Russia and Ukraine within the Minsk peace process. And both Ottawa and
Berlin watch nervously as the squabbling in Ukraine’s pro-Western camp
threatens to derail the process of political and economic reforms international
creditors demand before releasing further loans to stabilize the country’s
At the same time, the ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and
pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine remains extremely fragile, with frequent
flare-ups and both sides accusing each other of breaking the commitments under
the Minsk process.
After his meetings in Germany, Dion will then fly to
Istanbul, Turkey, to participate in the High Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) on
Somalia, the latest in a series of international conferences dedicated to
helping Somalia rebuild.
Dion is expected meet with international partners, including
counterparts from Africa and the Middle East, to discuss the situation in
Somalia and preparations for elections to be held later in 2016.
At the end of January, the Western-backed government of
Somalia finally agreed on the electoral model to be used in the war-torn Horn
of Africa country. However, serious obstacles to re-establishing the rule of
law in Somalia remain, with the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabaab still
controlling large swathes of territory despite the presence of African Union
peacekeeping troops in the country.
“Minister Dion’s participation in this ministerial meeting
reaffirms Canada’s commitment to supporting international efforts toward a more
stable, peaceful and resilient Somalia,” said the statement from Global
Affairs. “Progress in Somalia is essential to regional security and stability
in East Africa.”
In Turkey, Dion will also participate in a round table with
Syrian opposition representatives, marking the first time a Canadian minister
and the Syrian opposition representatives meet since early 2013. The meeting
with members of Syrian opposition comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has
vowed to play a more active diplomatic role to settle the Syrian crisis.
The trip to Turkey also comes amid rising tensions between
Russia and Turkey, with both countries accusing each other of provocative and
Massive Russian air strikes in Syria, many of which target
Syrian opposition forces supported by the West and Turkey in particular, have
tipped the balance in favour of President Bashar Al-Assad and allowed his
forces to quickly regain ground, infuriating Ankara.