A joint press conference, held on 16 February 2018 from Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, ahead of attending the 2018 Munich Security Conference.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to be able to welcome the British Prime Minister Theresa May to Berlin today. She will go on and stand to participate in the Munich Security Conference. We have a very close exchange of views, both on Britain leaving the European Union, and on the international agenda, and our intensive cooperation on all global issues.
We basically have not changed our stance on Britain’s leaving the European Union. We deplore it, but we want to adopt a constructive position because we want to have as close as possible a partnership with Britain even after leaving the European Union, both economically and politically. We were guided by this spirit when talking about leaving, when talking about the transition period, and in March, we will deal with the issue of the guidelines for our future relationship.
For us as Germans, we would like to see a situation where we as 27 act together in these negotiations, but obviously bilateral talks are of prime importance in this particular phase and at this particular stage. All this is a process that is ongoing, we’re all developing our ideas about this, so we will very much look forward to Britain, again, setting out its ideas. The speech in Florence was a very important speech in this respect, and we will obviously follow very carefully what other statements will be made in the period leading up to the March Council. And then we will also try and coordinate very closely on the future guidelines as we work on them.
We would like to initiate those negotiations because we are under a certain amount of time pressure, but obviously, we also want to be very diligent, very careful, in working on this, which means we will have frequent exchanges of views.
Looking at global challenges, we talked about the nuclear agreement with Iran. There’s a very close coordination here, and also a common position of the European partners of Britain, therefore, also and of Germany. We also talked about Britain hosting this year the so-called Berlin Process, as a conference with the countries of the Western Balkans. I must say that I’m delighted to note that, irrespective of Britain leaving the European Union, this perspective of the Western Balkans is seen as a very important point also about Britain in order to ensure a peaceful order for the whole of Europe.
We talked about Ukraine and the conflict there, and about how we can achieve progress there. And we also talked about Syria, we voiced our concerns about the situation there on the ground. Obviously, Turkey has a legitimate interest in ensuring its own security, but everything that can lead to tensions among NATO partners has to be avoided at all costs. And then we will coordinate very closely on this, as well. So, it was a very constructive talk guided by a spirit of friendship of partnership, so yet again, a very warm welcome to you, Theresa, here to Berlin.
Prime Minister May
It’s a pleasure to be in Berlin once again and I thank Chancellor Merkel for hosting these talks today. You may recall, she was the first Head of Government that I visited after becoming Prime Minister in 2016, I think underlining the importance of the relationship between our two countries.
Our partnership is vital in defending our shared values and promoting our interests around the world. We are standing side-by-side in Eastern Europe as part of NATO efforts to reassure our allies and deter Russian aggression.
Our Armed Forces are supporting the Iraqi Government to liberate territory in their brave fight against Daesh in the Middle East.
And in areas such as global health, climate change, clean energy, UK-Germany cooperation has shaped the international agenda.