Michael Steiner (born 1949, in Munich), a national of Germany, was head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). He studied law in Paris and Munich from 1971 to 1977 and qualified as a judge in 1981. Later that year, he entered the German Foreign Office. As a young political officer in Prague in the summer of 1989, he won plaudits for his handling of a refugee crisis that helped lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall. As hundreds of East Germans surrounded his embassy grounds, asking for asylum and West German citizenship, he helped some of them over the wall himself, onto the embassy grounds, which were West German territory. Then he worked to negotiate a deal to allow the East Germans to leave the embassy and go to the West.
During his distinguished career with the German government, Steiner served as head of the liaison office for German humanitarian aid in Zagreb, made his mark in the 1990s working with the so-called Contact Group of nations monitoring the Yugoslav wars (of which Germany was a member), and as head of the co-ordination unit for multilateral peace efforts. He also led the special section "International Peace Efforts in Yugoslavia" from 1994 to 1995.
Steiner served nearly six years as principal deputy to Carl Bildt, the first high representative in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1998, while serving as Germany's ambassador in Prague, he was plucked by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to work in the chancellor's office as his foreign and security policy adviser. And in 2001 he was forced to resign after the so-called "caviar affair (de)".
In December 2001 he was appointed a head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. He was the third special representative of the secretary general for Kosovo since UNMIK was established in 1999. He followed Hans Haekkerup of Denmark and Bernard Kouchner of France, and was replaced by Harri Hermani Holkeri of Finland in 8 July 2003.
From April 2010 to March 2012, Steiner served as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In March 2012 he was pronounced new ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to India and will start his mission there soon. On 20 July 2012, Michael Steiner hosts a festive ceremony at his residence in the honour of Zubin Mehta to acknowledge his outstanding contribution in the field of classical music.
- Kate Connolly in Berlin (2001-11-21). "Schröder aide quits in 'caviar affair' | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
- "Zubin Mehta bestowed with high honour by Germany's ambassador". 20 July 2012.