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Bucharest
21 March 2019
Foreign Affairs News Video Gallery

Foreign Affairs Council, main results

Ukraine

Five years after events in Maidan, we had a broad discussion on efforts to support the country. When it comes to the reform process, if you compare to five years ago, Ukraine is a different country. A lot remains to be done, in terms of socio-economic reforms and anticorruption, but it is clear Ukraine has come a long way, and it is mostly thanks to our Association Agreement, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas and the visa liberalisation agreement we have put in place that it has been beneficial for citizens of Ukraine to go along this path.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

The Council had a comprehensive discussion on Ukraine, covering the reform process as well as the security and humanitarian situation, in particular in eastern Ukraine and the Sea of Azov. The Council reiterated its full support for Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty and continued condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russia.

Foreign ministers acknowledged the important progress Ukraine has accomplished in key areas over the past five years. They highlighted the need to maintain the reform momentum to ensure the long term sustainability of what has been results achieved, in particular in the context of upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

The Council also expressed the importance of ensuring that the elections in Ukraine are well-conducted. They highlighted the importance of ensuring that the OSCE election observation mission can conduct its work and can observe the elections in full accordance with its usual practice.

Ministers exchanged views on how the EU can help, following the developments in the Azov Sea and Kerch strait region, particularly through strengthened support in the affected areas, including in sectors such as railway and road connections, training, and support for SMEs. They reiterated the EU’s call for all detained Ukrainian seamen to be immediately released as well as for the return of the seized vessels and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Straits.

Syria

The Council discussed the situation in Syria. Foreign ministers reiterated the EU’s full and continued support for UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen‘s efforts and the Geneva UN-led peace process for Syria, which remains key to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, for a credible political transition in Syria as the only sustainable long term solution to the conflict. Ministers reiterated that the EU will be ready to assist in the reconstruction of Syria only when a comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition is firmly under way.

Ministers discussed preparations for the “Brussels 3” conference “Supporting the future of Syria and the region“, which will take place on 12-14 March, and remains key to continue mobilising the international community behind humanitarian and resilience efforts for the Syrian people and host communities. The High Representative highlighted that the conference would have an even greater focus on the role of civil society and women, and that the issues of accountability and the fight against immunity will feature prominently.

Venezuela

Foreign ministers discussed the situation in Venezuela, following the first meeting of the International Contact Group in Montevideo on 7 February and ahead of the technical mission to Caracas led by the EU and Uruguay. The mission will work on the assessment of the support that can be given to open the way for a democratic and peaceful outcome to the crisis, and, in particular, the holding of early presidential elections.

Foreign ministers also stressed that humanitarian aid should be delivered to the people in need and cannot be used for political purposes that are different from international humanitarian law.

Humanitarian aid must never be used for purposes other than that reaching the population in need.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Horn of Africa

The Council discussed the Horn of Africa. The High Representative informed ministers about her visit to the region the previous week. Foreign ministers welcomed the historic Ethiopia-Eritrea peace agreement. They discussed how the EU can support this unprecedented opportunity to accelerate reconciliation and economic integration in the Horn of Africa. They reaffirmed the EU’s engagement in the region, which still faces important challenges, not least the security situation in Somalia. They also highlighted the need to keep a strong focus on the respect for human rights, as well as on the situation of migrants who embark on perilous journeys, sometimes at a very young age.

Current affairs

At the beginning of the Council meeting, foreign ministers welcomed the entry into force of the Prespa Agreement which allows for the change of name of North Macedonia. They briefly discussed the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

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