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Informal meeting of foreign ministers on Middle East, Western Balkans and relations with the US

V I E N N A, 30 and 31 August 2018 – Minister Erjavec is taking part in the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers (Gymnich). Most of Thursday’s session was devoted to current developments in the Middle East, with a particular focus on the status of the Middle East peace process, Syria and Iran. The EU’s continued commitment to supporting the peace process and the two-state solution was underlined. The ministers also pointed out the deterioration of the situation in Gaza and the financial situation of the UNRWA.

 

Regarding Syria, ministers expressed serious concern about the future and the situation in the town of Idlib, and went on to stress the need for a credible political process which would facilitate the start of the country’s reconstruction and create conditions for the return of Syrian refugees. As to Iran, they revisited the issue of preserving the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA) and Iran’s role in the region. They also pointed out the need for activities aimed at continuing the EU’s economic and financial cooperation with Iran, despite the withdrawal from the JCPOA and the reinstatement of sanctions on Iran by the USA.

The ministers also briefly revised the status of EU-US relations, stressing that both share values and interests. Transatlantic cooperation should be enhanced in all areas of common interest. It is important to preserve the unity of the EU and its stance in relations with the United States.

 

When discussing the Western Balkans, the ministers focused on the implementation of agreements made at the EU Western Balkans Summit in Sofia held in May this year. They discussed the pre-referendum situation in Macedonia and called for a continuation of activities aimed at implementing the name agreement. They went on to exchange views on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the elections in October and on Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

During the final part of the informal meeting, the foreign ministers of EU candidate countries joined the debate on effective multilateralism. The ministers underlined that the EU remains focused on enhancing an effective multilateral international system and an order based on respect for rules.

 

Minister Erjavec later also participated an informal lunch hosted by Austria as the country holding the EU Council Presidency to discuss critical infrastructure and digitalisation.