Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Brussels, 23 January 2023

Russian aggression against Ukraine

The Foreign Affairs Council exchanged views on the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Before the Council discussion, the Foreign Minister of UkraineDmytro Kuleba, shortly addressed EU ministers via video conference, and briefed them about the latest developments on the ground and Ukraine’s current priorities. Ministers reassured him that the EU collective endeavour will continue for as long as it takes. The Council touched on the EU-Ukraine Summit, which is due to take place on 3 February, and will be the first summit since the start of Russia’s war of aggression, and with Ukraine as a candidate country. Ministers then discussed further EU military support for Ukraine.

Today we reached a political agreement for the 7th tranche of military support with an additional € 500 million, and an additional assistance measure worth € 45 million for the Ukrainian forces being trained by our military training mission EUMAM Ukraine. This brings the total military support under the European Peace Facility to € 3.6 billion.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Ministers expressed support for Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace, stressing the importance to ensure the broadest possible global support for the initiative, and insist on its key elements: Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and Ukraine’s inherent right of self-defence against Russia’s aggression. Lastly ministers discussed options for an accountability mechanism. The EU supports the work going on in the United Nations on this matter, including in the context of the UN General Assembly, and stresses the importance of preserving the critical role of the International Criminal Court in international criminal justice.Ministers expressed large support for establishing an International Prosecutor Office in The Hague as a first step.

Informal exchange with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh

EU Foreign Affairs Ministers held an informal exchange over lunch with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on the state of play of bilateral relations and possible ways to enhance them further, working at ministerial level. Prime Minister Shtayyeh informed ministers of the situation on the ground, and the ongoing tensions. Ministers confirmed the EU support to protecting the viability of the two-state solution, and discussed the importance of a clear timeline towards holding national Palestinian elections and progressing with the Palestinian reform plan.Sahel and coastal countries of West AfricaThe Foreign Affairs Council had an exchange of views on Sahel and the coastal countries of West Africa, confirming that this region remains a priority for the EU in spite of the worsening security and political situation.Following the decision to establish a new Military Partnership Mission in Niger, which is due to be launched in February 2023, the Council agreed to develop a Crisis Management Concept in order to offer the Coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea concrete engagement and targeted training and support. The EU will also deploy Military Advisors in EU Delegations to guide this effort.

Current affairs

The council condemned the brutal repression of protests and executions taking place in Iran, and expressed continued support for the right of Iranians to protest in defence of their fundamental human rights. The Council then added 18 individuals and 19 entities to the list of those subject to restrictive measures in the context of the existing Iran human rights sanctions regime. These include high level figures of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, media and political personnel.

The Council established a new fully-fledged civilian mission in Armenia (EUMA Armenia), which will have up to 100 staff to observe and report on the situation on the ground, and thereby contribute to human security and confidence building between Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities.

Ministers then discussed the appalling developments in Afghanistan with additional restrictions being imposed on Afghan women and girls. The Council is assessing the implications of these developments, including through existing or additional mechanisms for holding the Taliban accountable for their human rights violations.Lastly the High Representative briefed the Council on the Serbia-Kosovo* dialogue, and notably the mission to Kosovo* and Serbia of the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues, together with the US Deputy Assistant Secretary, and the Foreign Policy Advisers of the leaders of France, Germany and Italy, with the objective of continuing discussions on the proposal on normalisation of relations. The Council also exchanged views on Venezuela, Montenegro and Ethiopia. The Council also adopted without discussion the items on the list of non-legislative A items.


*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Source – EU Council


Foreign Affairs Council: Remarks by EU HR Borrell upon arrival

 

Brussels, 23 January 2023

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Good morning,

Today, as always, we have a busy agenda.

We will start by the Ukraine war. We will study how to continue supporting Ukraine militarily.

We will discuss about a new tranche of the European Peace Facility (EPF) to provide more funding for Ukraine. And then, we will discuss about the level of military support after the Ramstein meeting – [where], by the way, there were a lot of commitments in Ramstein, a lot of commitments by several Member States, from the point of view of the number of resources engaged. So, we will discuss about the situation in the war.

We will have [Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine] Dmytro Kuleba, who will discuss with us.

Then we are going to receive – at lunch time – the Palestinian Prime Minister [Mohammad Shtayyeh]. We will discuss how to engage more with the Palestinian Authority, and the situation on the ground, which is certainly very worrisome. [We will discuss] how to work better and more with the Palestinian Authority in these difficult times for them.

The Sahel, the last news are not good. The terrorists [are] spreading to the Gulf of Guinea. Burkina Faso have asked for the French troops to leave. So, Sahel will be also on the agenda.

And this – with many other things – Ethiopia but, [the] most important, as always, is going to be the war in Ukraine.

Q&A

How about the terrorists in Iraq. Over the past several months there were so many Da’esh activity throughout this region. They have been attacking cities, bridges, so many people died. Does it concern you? 

Certainly, it [concerns] me, but I want to explain [to] you what is on the agenda of the [Foreign Affairs] Council today.

Are new sanctions against Iran on the agenda today? 

Yes, it is going to be discussed.

The European Parliament asked you, and the European Union, to put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the terrorists list. On the other side, your Iranian counterpart has said that, if this is the case, Iran will withdraw from the JCPOA. What is your reaction to this? 

Well, look. There are many interesting opinions about that. But it is something that cannot be decided without a Court. A Court decision [is needed] first. You cannot say: “I consider you a terrorist because I do not like you”. It has to be [done] when a Court of one Member States issues a legal statement, a concrete condemnation. And then we work at the European level, but it has to be first a Court decision.

I want to ask you about your visit in Georgia, because we have information that you are planning to arrive in Georgia. When will this visit be?

Well, it is not on the agenda, but we will discuss about the situation in the Caucasus.

Can you tell me when you will discuss about Da’esh activities? 

Well, I can tell you: today, it is not on the agenda.

But when? 

I do not know.

For the situation in Iran, can you tell us what can still be done from the inside? 

[On] Iran, we are going to discuss new personal sanctions in according with the legal framework on human rights. But, as [per the denomination of] a terrorist organisation for the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard, I repeat, it has to be first a condemnation [by] a Court in one Member State.

Germany does not want to deliver tanks [to Ukraine], but they agreed to actually grant other Member States permission to deliver German tanks. What do you think about this? 

Well, in Ramstein, it was a very good result from the point of view of the number of arms that we – well, they, the different Member States – decided to provide to Ukraine. Do not dismiss the result of Ramstein: a lot of good decisions have been taken. And then each Member State decides at the national level what they want to do. But Germany has engaged a lot with a big amount of resources.

About this issue of the tanks, this is not the only thing that has to be discussed. Many other contributions from Member States [towards] the military support of Ukraine have been taken.

But the tanks seem to be crucial for President [of Ukraine, Volodymyr] Zelenskyy. 

Yes, President Zelenskyy is asking for it [the tanks]. Different Member States have different opinions. We will discuss about it today.

Can you explain yourself the German reluctance when it comes to the delivery of weapons? 

Look, it is not my role to do that. I said several times that from my personal opinion, I think this kind of arms should be provided to the Ukrainian army. But it is a Member States’ decision, and we are here to discuss about it.

Are you positive there is going to be consensus about another tranche of funds for the European Peace Facility (EPF)? 

I hope we will reach a political consensus. Today, no formal decision will be taken, but I hope that a political consensus will be reached. But I do not know.

Thank you.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-235995

Source – EEAS


Foreign Affairs Council: Remarks by EU HR Borrell at the press conference

 

Brussels, 23 January 2023

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Good evening.

The first Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the year could not have started with another issue than with the war in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, 2023 has not seen any interruption of the fighting. The military situation is unchanged, but do not confuse the stability in the frontline with operational calm. There is no operational calm. On the contrary, there are very violent combats on the Donbass, around the city of Bakhmut, and a little bit more to the north, in the oblast of Luhansk. The fight is very fierce and there are a lot of casualties in this fight.

So, we had to start the first [Foreign Affairs Council of the] year, talking about Ukraine.

Talking about Ukraine because Russia continues its systematic, barbaric attacks on Ukranian cities, killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructures.

Everybody has seen the horrible images from Dnipro, in one of the deadliest single attacks against civilians since the start of the war with more that 40 people – including six children – killed.

Ukraine is resisting with courage and determination. Let me tell you that we will continue our support to Ukraine. Ukraine has to win this war and we will support [it] in the best possible way.

It is almost a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. We confirmed to the Ukrainian Foreign, Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who joined us via VTC: our collective endeavour will continue, as long as it takes.

We are preparing the EU-Ukraine Summit on 3 February. It will be the first Summit since the start of the war and with Ukraine as a candidate country.

The deliverables  

Today, we reached a political agreement for the 7th tranche of military support [under the European Peace Facility], with an additional €500 million and an additional assistance measure worth €45 million for the Ukrainian [armed] forces being trained by our military training mission, by the EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine) that I visited before Christmas, in Poland.

This brings the total military support under the European Peace Facility to € 3.6 billion.

This is the military assistance support from the European Union budget, from the intergovernmental fund. But keep in mind the figure of €49 billion: €49 billion is the total amount of support to Ukraine. Military, financial, economic and humanitarian [support]: almost €50 billion. This means that the European Union is ranking first – Member States and European institutions, all together – we are ranking first in our support to Ukraine.

Second, our support for Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace.  We will continue supporting the substance of this proposal, to ensure the broadest possible global support. For that, we will insist on the two key elements: Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and Ukraine’s inherent right of self-defence. Third, the need for accountability.

It is Russia that is on the side of war, on the side of the violation of international law. Ukraine stands for peace and is taking initiatives in that regard. We have not seen any genuine willingness from Russia regarding a fair and sustainable peace.

We have been working also on the options for an accountability mechanism. Work is ongoing in the United Nations to this end, for this purpose, including in the context of the next United Nations General Assembly, which we fully support. Central to this work is to preserve the critical role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in international criminal justice.

There is large support for establishing an International Prosecutor Office in The Hague as a first step for accountability.

Then, the sanctions. There is a lot of debate about sanctions: the effectiveness of the sanctions, the price caps on oil and gas.

For the first time, the oil market for Russian oil is driven by demand. 40% — Russia needs 70% in order to balance its budget. So, it is losing $40 per barrel. It is a big hit on Russia’s financial stability.

On Palestine, which was the second issue and the most important point on the agenda after Ukraine. We met with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, who joined us during the lunch and shared with us the dire picture of the situation on the ground, with record Palestinian casualties in the West Bank – I said record – and continuing highlevel of tensions.

We will continue our internal discussions, after listening to how challenging is the situation, on how to enhance our bilateral relations further, working at the ministerial level.

Everyone in the Foreign Affairs Council reaffirmed the commitment to protect the viability of the two-state solution, giving support on the ground and keeping it a political horizon.

We discussed the importance of a clear timeline towards holding national Palestinian elections and progressing with the Palestinian reform plans. And we will continue providing our support for it.

The third issue – or point on the agenda – was the Sahel and the situation in the Coastal countries of West Africa. Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea remain a priority for the European Union. Unfortunately, the security and political situation is becoming worse and worse. The spill over of the terrorist threat from the Sahel to the coastal states is no longer a risk. It is no longer a hypothesis. It is a reality.

Our commitment is intact. We have to engage more with our regional partners before the situation becomes critical. The unacceptable presence of the Russian Wagner mercenaries adds to the current spiral of violence and insecurity.

At the end of 2022, we agreed on a new Military Partnership Mission in Niger. It will be launched next month.

Today, we also agreed that we need to do more concrete engagement with the Coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea. Ministers [of Foreign Affairs] agreed on asking the [European] External Action Service to develop a Crisis Management Concept (CMC) to offer these countries targeted training and support. We will also deploy Military Advisors in our European Union Delegations.

On Iran, the Ministers condemned the brutal repression of protesters – in particular the executions. We will continue supporting the right of Iranians in defence of their fundamental human rights. This is the message that I conveyed to the Foreign Minister of Iran [Hossein Amir-Abdollahian] several times.

Today, we adopted the fourth sanctions package under the Iran Human Rights Regime, listing another 37 [Iranians] responsible for this crackdown. This includes high-level figures of the media, political personnel and also the high-ranking members from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

On Armenia [and] Azerbaijan – this is another concrete deliverable of the Council today – the establishment of a new full-fledged civilian mission in Armenia, with about 100 staff to observe and report on the situation on the ground to contribute to human security and confidence-building between Armenian and Azerbaijan.

On Afghanistan, we discussed the appalling developments in Afghanistan with additional restrictions on Afghan women and girls. We are assessing the implications of these latest developments, including through existing or additional mechanisms for holding the Taliban accountable for their human rights violations. The [Foreign Affairs] Council in February will take concrete decisions on that.

And let me end with a very important issue, which is the Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue.

I briefed the Ministers on the mission of our EU Special Representative [Miroslav Lajčák] last week on my behalf, together with US Deputy Assistant Secretary [Gabriel] Escobar, and the Foreign Policy Advisers of the leaders of France, Germany and Italy. All of them travelled to Kosovo and Serbia to continue discussions on the proposal on normalisation of relations. We stressed that advancing on this Proposal would bring considerable benefits for both sides. And I consider that this is the only way to break the vicious cycle of crisis on the ground and reduce the risk for further escalation. We expect serious commitment and readiness to engage constructively in order to make this proposal advance.

Source – EEAS

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