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Minister Erjavec attends Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels

Brussels, 6 March 2017 – Minister Erjavec attended the FAC meeting in Brussels which debated the implementation of the EU’s global security and defence strategy, the Western Balkans, the external aspects of migration and the Middle East peace process. At the informal lunch, the ministers were joined by the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Sameh Hassan Shoukry.  The Council also adopted conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on implementing the EU’s global strategy and strengthening synergies between EU climate and energy diplomacies arising from the meeting of energy diplomacy experts from EU Member States in Ljubljana last October.

The implementation of the EU’s global security and defence strategy was dealt with at the joint session of foreign and defence ministers. The Council agreed to establish a military planning and conduct capability for non-executive military missions of the EU, and provided guidelines for further work on enhancing the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, underlining the possibilities offered by the inclusive Permanent Structured Cooperation and proposals for the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence. The ministers reviewed the implementation status of the Joint Declaration on strategic partnership between the EU and NATO, and discussed further steps towards the realisation of the European Defence Action Plan.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, informed the ministers of the results of her visit to all of the Western Balkan countries. The High Representative's central messages concerned the need for further progress, particularly taking into account the changing security circumstances, and the continuation of the enlargement process. The ministers reconfirmed the EU’s engagement in the region, which is now of greater importance than ever before, and underlined the importance of reaching out to the populations of the region, in particular through public diplomacy, to better communicate the benefits of the European path. Minister Erjavec stressed the importance of putting Western Balkan issues on the Council agenda, and noted the planned debate at the meeting of heads of government within the European Council. It is vital to convey to the region all the relevant messages, the voiced concerns and the EU's unequivocal commitment to further enlargement. Minister Erjavec also stressed that the enlargement and the EU prospects remain important factors in the reform progress and stability in the region. That some countries are lagging behind on their path to EU integration could affect the overall situation in these countries. The EU should therefore remain engaged and proactive.

During the brief debate on the external aspects of migration, the ministers exchanged views on the implementation of the agreements reached at the informal meeting of the European Council in Malta on 3 February, and on the outcomes of the Senior Officials' Meeting in Malta on 8 and 9 February. The European Commission and High Representative Mogherini presented the third report on the progress made under the partnership framework approach with five priority countries (Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal).

The Council went on to discuss the Middle East peace process and the situation in the field, expressing concern with continued Israeli announcements of new construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Slovenia reaffirms the importance of the EU taking a unified, ambitious and firm position, which should continue to emphasise commitment to, and respect for, international law. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and the closing statement of the Paris peace conference must remain the guidelines for joint action and the EU's engagement in the Middle East peace process.

On the sidelines of the Council session, Minister Erjavec, together with the foreign ministers of Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Sweden, signed a letter to European Commissioner Timmermans containing an initiative for a voluntary contribution by the European Commission to the European Court of Human Rights.

Minister Erjavec also attended a round table on the future of the EU, organised by the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was held at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the EU in Brussels.