00:48 GMT +324 October 2019
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    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet in Moscow.

    Steinmeier 'On the Right Track' in Trying to Normalize Ties With Moscow

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    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's critical statements about NATO's activities near Russia's borders caused a mixed response among German politicians.

    While German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble harshly criticized Steinmeier for his desire to maintain friendly relations with Russia, member of Steinmeier's SPD party Thomas Oppermann supported his point of view, saying that the logic of military armaments is counterproductive.

    "I consider it a grotesque move that that he [Schäuble] of all people wants to give the foreign minister a lesson in diplomacy," the SPD parliamentary leader said, cited by N24.

    Speaking at the close of NATO's Anaconda 16 drills in Poland, Steinmeier warned the alliance against saber-rattling, and urged its members to work together with Russia for the security of Europe.

    "What we should not do now is inflame the situation with loud saber-rattling and war cries," he told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

    Since 2014, NATO has been increasing its military presence in Western Europe close to Russia's western borders, using Moscow's alleged interference in Ukraine as a pretext for the move. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims and warned NATO that the military buildup on Russia's borders is provocative and threatens the existing strategic balance of power.

    According to Oppermann, Steinmeier "is on the right track" trying to normalize Germany's relations with Moscow. The head of the SPD parliamentary faction also noted that "it is very important" for Germany "to once again become a partner with the Russian Federation."

    The confrontation between CDU member Schäuble and former SPD leader Steinmeier seems to signify a new division in Germany's ruling coalition. The last major crisis in the ruling coalition broke out in autumn 2015, when politicians from the two major German parties were struggling to resolve the dispute regarding the government's refugee policy, German magazine Spiegel Online wrote.

    For many months, the European Union has been struggling to manage a massive refugee crisis dubbed by Frontex as the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with hundreds of thousands of people leaving conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty and seek asylum in Europe. The refugee crisis has gradually become a political crisis, with many German politicians criticizing the open-door policy toward migrants introduced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


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