Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian attended today’s EU council of foreign ministers in Brussels.
Discussions focused on the following issues:
- Iran: at our initiative and that of our German and British partners (the so-called E3 format), we reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to the JCPoA, whose implementation is rooted in the respect of international agreements and is vital to international security. The ministers reviewed efforts to preserve and maintain operational financial circuits with Iran so that that country might continue to enjoy the economic benefits of the agreement, as long as it continues to fully abide by its terms. Mr. Le Drian emphasized our approach – a combination of openness to dialogue and firmness toward Tehran – and our wish to discuss the post-2025–2030 Iranian nuclear program, Iran’s regional role, and the limitation of ballistic activities, just as it fired another medium-range missile, on December 1.
- Ukraine: the ministers exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine following the serious naval incident when Russia intervened on November 25 in the Black Sea, south of the Kerch Strait. They called on both parties to exercise restraint and deescalate the situation, notably by asking for the release of the sailors and vessels seized by Russia. They spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and assured him of the EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Mr. Le Drian informed the Council of the latest efforts within the Normandy Format (consisting of Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine) and of the implementation of the Minsk agreement. The Council adopted individual sanctions on nine of the main organizers of the illegal “elections” in the Donbass on November 11.
- Western Balkans: the ministers discussed the breakdown in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo on challenges related to the implementation of the Prespa agreement on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They also reviewed the implementation of measures adopted by the EU-Balkan summit this past May in Sofia on youth projects, security, connectivity and the rule of law.
- Venezuela: the ministers discussed the political and humanitarian crisis and its repercussions on neighboring countries. They discussed the terms of the EU’s commitment with respect to this crisis and notably the creation of a contact group to foster the resumption of the political dialogue between the government and the political opposition, with the cooperation of regional organizations.
- Cooperation between the EU and the African Union (AU): the ministers broached the subject of the partnership between the UE and the AU ahead of the ministerial meeting scheduled for January 21. The French foreign minister stressed the usefulness of the dialogue between the EU and the AU for peace and security in Africa and for promoting strong, effective multilateralism in the face of global challenges, including the sustainable development goals, the fight against climate disruption, and migration. He emphasized that increased investments must be an important component of our relationship with Africa. Mr. Le Drian underscored his commitment to the negotiation of the future “post-Cotonou” agreement between the EU and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.