German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed Russia’s request for a UN peacekeeping mission in Ukraine after talking to German citizens of predominantly Russian origins, in Jena, on Friday.

SOT, Sigmar Gabriel, Foreign Minister of Germany (German): “The [OSCE] international special monitoring mission there [in Donbass], the SMM, accuses both sides of breaching the ceasefire. That’s why we have been advocating sending an armed UN peacekeeping mission to control the ceasefire and to withdraw the heavy weapons. In the past the Russian side has rather refused to do that. That’s why I was very pleased when the Russian president Vladimir Putin declared publicly that Russia wants to request such a mission. Russia’s terms surely do not correspond with ours or those of Ukraine surely, but nevertheless, I think it is a good first step. What we have to do now is to negotiate with the objective to implement that ceasefire, to withdraw heavy weaponry. And with Russia’s proposal, we have the opportunity to do that. My advice would be not to say ‘We won’t do that,’ just because the terms are not fulfilled, but rather to talk to the Russian government about those terms, for the people in Donbass suffer from that. If we could actually enforce that ceasefire, the political process can finally start, the reconstruction of Donbass can start and we can start lifting sanctions against Russia.”

SOT, Sigmar Gabriel, Foreign Minister of Germany (German): “Europe was not founded to be a global player. And I think that Europe is learning now that it has to play a role in the world – politically, sometimes even militarily. Europe cannot content itself by developing internally, as today the in- and outside are inseparable. If we don’t act in Africa, if we don’t fight hunger and poverty there, what will happen? The refugees will keep coming. We can build the highest walls, send as many ships to the Med as we want – but if hunger and misery is everything Africans see at home, what are they supposed to do with their families but try and come to Europe? That’s why I say that our life internally and our actions outside [of Europe] are interwoven on a much larger scale than they used to be 30 years ago. That’s why Europe needs to develop its own strategy and this also applies to dealing with China.”