Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Unofficial translation of the statement by Chancellor Merkel:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are meeting today for the European Council to discuss foreign policy, climate and the Coronavirus situation. This will already be a very intensive debate, especially about Russia. But, of course, there’s another issue, through the unprecedented actions of the Belarusian authorities. We have seen a forced landing that led to the arrest of a Belarusian opposition figure, Roman Protasevich. And Roman Protasevich must be released immediately. All other explanations for the landing of the Ryanair plane are completely implausible. The same applies to his partner Sofia Sapega. We will demand this and at the same time discuss measures we can take against Belarus, as a unified European response. This will certainly include further listings. President Lukashenko is already listed. But it also includes the question of refusing flights by the Belarusian airline and, of course, an international investigation and, as I said, the release of those arrested.

Tomorrow, we will then talk intensively about issue of climate protection. This is not about decisions, but about preparations for the European Commission’s decision on 14 July. To this end it is good for the Member States to have already held a discussion and for the Commission to have an overview over how we want to achieve climate neutrality for the whole of Europe by 2050. Germany went ahead, we have enhanced our national targets and want to achieve climate neutrality as early as 2045, which will make a good contribution to the European solutions. But of course there remain a lot questions open related to industrial policy in times of climate change and also fair trade, such as the taxation of countries that don’t contribute as much to climate protection. All these are complicated issues. As I said: no decisions but an important preliminary discussion.

Thank you very much.

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