10.12.2020 Brussels The EU top diplomat Josep BoTrrell upon arrival at the European Council made the following remarks:
“We have three important [external affairs] items today on the agenda of the European Union Council: we have Turkey, once again; we have our relations with the US and the prospects of the new presidency; and we have the Southern Neighbourhood”.
“The Southern Neighbourhood is a very important part of the world for us. We are closely working with them in order to push for their progress but we have to do more. I hope that the debate in the Council today will provide guidelines for this continued effort and to prepare the [Joint] Communication that the Commission will put forward in February.
“We have just celebrated the anniversary of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona. This was also an important event and I will inform the Council about this meeting.
“We are also going to discuss the relationship with the US – the prospects for the new administration, how to engage with them. We hope that this is going to be a more positive one. It has been a bumpy road in the last years, and there is a lot of hope for the future work between the European Union and the US.
“On Turkey, the Foreign Affairs Council reviewed the latest events and we cannot provide a positive assessment. The behaviour of Turkey has not changed fundamentally. We can even say that, from some points of view, things have been worsening. The assessment is not a positive one and we have to deal with it”.
Today the Foreign Affairs Council started with a discussion on current affairs, allowing ministers to review pressing issues on the international agenda.
The Ministers are expected to include into discussion the situation in Sudan, Ethiopia and Venezuela. Ministers are also supposed to discuss Turkey‘s current illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus shore.
Federica Mogherini will debrief ministers on the EU-Ukraine summit on 8 July and the EU-G5 Sahel ministerial meeting.
The meeting started by Mogherini, the EU top diplomat literally greeting with open arms disgraced Josep Borrell, incumbent Spanish Foreign minister, who is put forward by the EU Council as a candidate to “heir” her job. Borrell is a former president of the European Parliament, he has been forced into resignation over his last EU top job in a scandal of conflict of interests, ending in abandoning his post of the President of the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. While leading the prestigious EU scientific establishment, he was receiving EUR300 000 year salary for promotion of interests of Spanish energy company Abengoa.
“We then discussed our support to the Afghanistan peace process. You might have seen the conclusions that have been adopted that highlight the concrete actions that the European Union is willing and ready to take in support of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, hopefully to be started already next week – as it was announced that intra-Afghan negotiations might start already next week” the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, while concluding the work of the meeting of Foreign ministers Council in Luxembourg.
“We have been supporting enormously the work of the Afghan legitimate authorities in their preparation for that. I am glad to see that yesterday, President of Afghanistan, Ashraf] Ghani announced the formation of the negotiating team and a senior council to lead them. I really hope that, also following our talks in Kabul a couple of weeks ago, this can open the way for negotiations that can lead to peace in Afghanistan without pre-judging neither the electoral process nor the achievements that the Afghan population has managed to reach, in particular on the rights of women, minorities and human rights in general terms.”
The Council recommends that direct negotiations between Afghans, with the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban at their core begin as soon as possible.
It confirms the EU’s readiness to support the peace process and its implementation, wit the aim of preserving and building on the political, economic and social achievements of the people of Afghanistan since 2001, which should be irreversible. The EU stands ready to support the following aspects of the process:
- to help make the peace process inclusive;
- to assist with reforms, including security sector reform;
- to act as a guarantor of a peace process, if requested by the parties;
- to assist with reintegration of fighters and their families and
- to promote regional trade and connectivity.
Moscow’s proposals to discuss issues related to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) with the United States remain on the table, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a press briefing, commenting on the ultimatum on the treaty put forward by the US and NATO.
“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” she said.
The diplomat confirmed Russia has started considering the US and NATO statement on withdrawing from the INF Treaty in 60 days.
Today MEPs had an exchange of views with Ekaterina Zaharieva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, at the hearing of the Committee of Foreign Affairs (AFET). The issue of Western Balkans has evoked keen attention of MEPs, both for its paramount importance for the EU, but also for its special place for incumbent Bulgarian presidency. (Image: Minister Zaharieva in AFET hearing, debating with MEPs).
Previously European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker stated:
“Bulgaria can and will be a source of inspiration for the countries of the Western Balkans. That is why the Bulgarian prime minister rightly rules their relations with them as a priority”.
“I want to send the message to the Western Balkan countries that joining the EU is not a natural thing, but it needs to be won with a lot of effort. All conflicts must be settled before their accession to the EU”.
“The countries of the Western Balkans deserve a real European perspective. Their accession to the Union will not take place until the end of this mandate of this European Commission because they do not meet the necessary conditions. They need to make the necessary reforms”. However Juncker’s Commission has been continuously criticised for lack of ambition, especially in terms of EU Enlargement policy.
In spite of existing criticism of Juncker’s Commission, Minister Zaharieva has an optimistic view on the perspective of Western Balkans, joining the European Union:
Today Foreign affairs ministers have an informal meeting with the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson in Brussels.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, EU foreign ministers and the US State Secretary are discussing how to strengthen transatlantic cooperation on major global challenges.
In his statement the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States remains committed to Europe, and Atlantic bond. After the exchange of views with EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini, Tillerson will have an informal exchange with the EU foreign ministers on the whole range of issues on international agenda.
6/02/2017 The Council, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, will discuss the situation in Ukraine. Ministers are expected to assess progress in the implementation of the reform agenda in Ukraine over the past year as well as EU support to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
The Council will discuss the political situation in Libya, one year after the formation of the Government of National Accord. The economic and security situation may also be touched upon.Ministers for foreign affairs will also discuss how to work with Libya to address irregular migration along the Central Mediterranean route.
The Council will discuss the situation in Egypt and the way forward in EU-Egypt relations. Ministers may also more specifically address migration, counter-terrorism and Egypt’s role in the region.
The Council will discuss the Middle East peace process following up on the discussion that ministers held in January and taking stock of the most recent developments.