Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, took part in the EU Foreign Affairs Council yesterday in Luxembourg.
This meeting was largely devoted to the situation in Belarus. The discussion with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya provided an opportunity to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to supporting Belarusian civil society and a democratic Belarus. The ministers adopted a substantial package of sanctions targeted against individuals and entities involved in the crackdown and violations of fundamental rights. This set of sanctions also covers individuals and entities that played a role in diverting the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius on May 23. As also urged by the European Council on May 24 and 25, the ministers agreed on sectoral sanctions that will be adopted in the near future.
In the run-up to the European Council on June 24 and 25, the ministers also discussed:
- EU-Russian relations, reaffirming the need for a united European approach based on firmness and dialogue, especially with respect to issues of interest to the EU, as well the need to strengthen support for Russian civil society. With respect to Turkey, the ministers reaffirmed the need for Turkey to take the necessary concrete action, in accordance with the framework set out by the heads of state and government and based on a progressive, proportionate, and reversible approach.
- the situation in Iraq, in the presence of Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, in order to express European support for the strengthening of the sovereignty of the Iraqi state, notably in the run-up to the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on October 10, 2021, in a difficult security context, and in order to encourage the balanced diplomatic approach Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government. The ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to facilitating the smooth conduct of the elections, through the deployment, if security conditions allow, of a European election observation mission.
- the situation in the Sahel, which provided an opportunity for the minister to reaffirm the need for international and European commitment to combating terrorism and France’s contribution in this respect, while France is adapting its military presence.
- Lebanon: Following the visit by the high representative returning from Beirut, the ministers expressed their deep concern at the very serious situation in the country and the urgent need for an agreement to be reached in order to form a government capable of implementing the necessary reforms. They continued their work on the implementation of concrete measures against those responsible for the political deadlock and corruption in Lebanon, which notably include the establishment of a sanctions regime.
Lastly, the ministers underscored the need for increased EU investment in Latin America and the Caribbean, regions that have been very hard hit by the pandemic and are beset by troubling political crises, especially in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti, as well serious economic and social problems, calling for European mobilization in all areas.