Steinmeier in Riga: «No new cold war»

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier dropped in on Riga Thursday as part of a whistlestop tour of the Baltic states, playing down suggestion that the region was entering a new Cold War situation.

Speaking after talks with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics and following a meeting with Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, Steinmeier said no decision had yet been taken by the German government on sending more troops to the Baltic states to ward off Russia.

He also emphasized that dialogue with Russia will be necessary to prevent misunderstandings escalating into armed conflict.

"My personal conviction is we are not entering a Cold War situation because the world now is much more complex than it was in the 60s and 70s," Steinmeier said.

"We need to find the right balance between deterrence and detente."

"There is a readiness in NATO to accept that we need dialogue in two directions: first of all risk reduction. We have agreed on military contacts to create transparency on exercises for instance, to avoid misunderstandings, perhaps reactions which are created by misunderstandings and secondly to re-establish the NATO Russia council at ambassadorial level. That was not an easy discussion."

"There is very strong acceptance that with our decisions on defence capacities we need a second pillar in which we are talking about dialogue," Steinmeier said.

Rinkevics said that while no commitments to increase troop numbers had yet been made, he expected the Warsaw summit in July to provide necessary reassurance.

"I am confident we will have a lot of good news in a relatively short time," Rinkevics said.
 

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