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(Heidi Paech)

Steinmeier is the first German President to visit Australia in 16 years. On the occasion of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Perth, he held talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on numerous topics. However, Steinmeier also made some time for the local German community, and for SBS Radio, of course.

By
Maria Schaller, Heidi Paech
Published on
Monday, November 6, 2017 - 13:23
File size
2.07 MB
Duration
4 min 31 sec

During his historic visit in Australia, Frank-Walter Steinmeier was the showstopper at the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference. Nevertheless, in addition to official duties, he also showed a significant interest in Australia's often controversial refugee policy.

While admitting that it was a “tremendous challenge" for Germany to take in more than one million refugees in just over two years, the head of state also stressed indirectly that Australia could play a more pro-active role in the region.

"Australia has rather stayed away from the issue, however, there is a willingness to take in internationally-agreed contingents."

“I am looking forward to learn more about the Australian debate, especially because I know that it has not always been an easy topic for both our nations", Steinmeier added when speaking to German media.

However, the former Foreign Minister also urged Australia "to resist any temptation to turn away from difficult world events as dictators and authoritarian leaders make threats and refuse to engage in dialogue".

Steinmeier and Turnbull did agree on strengthening bilateral relations between Germany and Australia. Steinmeier stressed that there is a "large potential" for more cooperation.

Upon his arrival, Steinmeier also took the chance to meet members of Perth's German community.

Together with his wife, Elke Büdenbender, the president met local students and their parents at Kings Park.

"I appreciate how the German culture is being appreciated here" - he also added that he was positively surprised that Germany's national holiday on the 3rd of October is also being celebrated every year.

Germany's Federal President is voted by Parliament and has only representative powers, similar to the Queen in the Australian Constitution.