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Miroslav Lajčák Takes Part in the Meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels

Miroslav Lajčák Takes Part in the Meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels

18.2.2019 | Aktivity ministra | SR a EÚ |

Today (18 February 2019) Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, took part in the regular meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels.  Prior to the FAC meeting, the Minister met with Pavlo Klimikin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, to discuss the current developments in the country in the context of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections and the current state of Russian-Ukrainian relations. The partners concluded that the situation in Crimea, Donbas and the Sea of Azov remains tense. Miroslav Lajčák informed the participants of the meeting about his visit to Ukraine in January, specifically to the line of contact, and added that both the OSCE, where he is the Chairperson-in-Office this year, and the EU have the ambition of finding a way to alleviate the bad humanitarian situation in the crisis regions and to help people who have been suffering due to the conflict. One of these activities could be landmine-clearance in civilian-populated areas.

At the FAC meeting, Ukraine was a dominant and substantial part of the discussion of the ministers, with a focus on the political and security situation in the country and its reform processes. In this regard, Miroslav Lajčák pointed to the fact that the Ukrainian party should focus on four main goals: to secure free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, to continue in the reform processes, to make an effort to de-escalate the situation in the East of Ukraine and to take actions aiming at the improvement of the living conditions of people living in the areas affected by the conflict. The heads of the European diplomatic services also arrived at a political agreement that introduces further individual sanctions against Russia in relation to the November Kerch Strait incident and the detention of twenty-four Ukrainian seamen and ships.

When assessing the situation in Syria, the ministers focused on the possible consequences of the American military withdrawal from the country and on other potential risks linked to it and on the future direction of the political processes. Today’s meeting was a preparatory meeting for the 3rd Brussels conference on the situation in this near-eastern country to be held on the 13th and 14th of March this year. The conference will again focus on the humanitarian, political and regional dimensions. The aim of the conference is to mobilize support and create room for the new UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, whose mission is the advancement of the Geneva process. The conference will be co-chaired by the EU and the UN. “Slovakia is interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria, the UN-sponsored advancement of the political process, and the respect for democratic principles and human rights,” stated Miroslav Lajčák in this regard.
The ministers also discussed the Horn of Africa region, particularly regarding the possibilities of increasing actions and diplomatic efforts on the part of the EU to initiate cooperation with the countries of the region. This activity was a follow-up of the recent visit of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to Ethiopia and her participation in the African Union Summit. The heads of diplomacies also addressed the issue of the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and its positive impact on the entire region. “We support the effort in the Horn of Africa region aimed at harmonizing and overcoming of differences. We particularly recommend a focus on Somalia with the aim of fostering region-wide stabilization and security,” Minister Lajčák said.

The last issue of the FAC meeting was the situation in Venezuela – the Council continued its complex discussion which started in Gymnich two weeks ago. Federica Mogherini informed the participants about the outcomes of the International Contact Group’s meeting in Montevideo on 7 February 2019. The ministers discussed the assessment of the current development in Venezuela with special attention to the humanitarian aspect of the situation. “Slovakia supports a peaceful and inclusive resolution of the current situation in Venezuela,” stressed the head of Slovak diplomacy.

Today, the Council adopted conclusions on climate diplomacy, Yemen, and human rights.

On the sidelines of the FAC meeting, a coordination meeting of the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group took place. Minister Lajčák also talked with the German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas about the current issues on the OSCE agenda.