Minister Erjavec attends EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting
Brussels, 14 November 2016 – Minister Erjavec attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, which had several items on the agenda, including EU-Turkey relations, the Eastern Partnership, the situation in the southern neighbourhood and the implementation of the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy.
Ministers exchanged views on current developments in Turkey, expressing concern over the renewed discussion about reinstating the death penalty, new limitations on freedom of expression and continued arrests. They recalled the EU's condemnation of the coup attempt and voiced their support for democratic institutions in Turkey, reiterating that the country is expected to uphold the highest standards of democracy, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as fulfil the commitments undertaken as a candidate country. The FAC also underlined Turkey's important role in stabilising and resolving current problems in the region, particularly in dealing with the challenges posed by the situations in Syria and Iraq. Minister Erjavec expressed his hope and expectation that Turkey would remain committed to a European future and values. He stressed the need to continue open and transparent dialogue and expressed the hope that the EU and Turkey would continue to cooperate closely in facing current common challenges.
The ministers also discussed multilateral and bilateral relations with the six Eastern Partnership countries and exchanged views on possible results of the next Eastern Partnership Summit in 2017. Special attention was devoted to the situation in Ukraine, the recent elections in Georgia, Moldova and Belarus, as well as to the ongoing negotiations for new agreements between the EU and Armenia, and between the EU and Azerbaijan. Minister Erjavec noted the key role of the Eastern Partnership in strengthening reform processes in partner countries, and informed the ministers of the outcomes of Ukrainian President Poroshenko's visit to Slovenia.
Over a working lunch, the ministers followed up on developments in the southern neighbourhood, focussing on Syria and Iraq. With regard to Syria, the Council fully debated the situation in the field and current diplomatic endeavours to end the crisis, ensure a ceasefire and effectively deliver humanitarian relief. The Council expressed concern over the situation in the country, calling for an immediate ceasefire. Minister Erjavec stressed that only by securing an effective ceasefire can further aggravation of the humanitarian catastrophe be prevented and the foundations be laid for continuing the political process and ensuring safety for the entire Syrian population, adding that the EU must assume a more prominent role in the political process and actively contribute to seeking positive outcomes for the Syrian civilian population. The EU will continue to promote and implement its humanitarian initiatives and carry out a range of diplomatic activities, including those aimed at strengthening dialogue with all major stakeholders in the region.
With regard to the EU global strategy, foreign and defence ministers jointly discussed the proposed implementation plan on security and defence presented by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. The Council stressed that security and defence are key priorities in the implementation of the EU global strategy. The implementation plan contains concrete proposals to achieve the objectives of the EU's external action defined in the EU global strategy (response to conflicts and crises, building resilience in partner countries, and ensuring security for the EU and its citizens), and provides for the establishment of development priorities in security and defence, deepening of defence cooperation, adapting of institutional structures, tools and financial instruments as well as strengthening relations with partner organisations (NATO, UN, African Union and OSCE).