Amid weeks of turbulent international developments, the EU’s 27 Foreign Ministers are meeting this Monday (24 January) in Brussels at the invitation of Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. These will be the second consultations within a few short days between Annalena Baerbock and her EU counterparts, following their informal meeting in Brest, France, on 13 and 14 January. At her first Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels in mid-December, just a few days after she had taken office, Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasised how much she values having a direct line of communication with her EU partners.
Today’s Council meeting will also focus in part on the security situation in Eastern Europe. During Foreign Minister Baerbock’s inaugural visits to Kyiv and Moscow last week, she worked to garner support for a diplomatic solution and further talks on achieving a détente. “We are willing to engage in a serious dialogue on mutual agreements and steps that will bring more security for everyone in Europe. Security for the people in Riga, Bucharest, Berlin and Saint Petersburg,” emphasised Baerbock on Tuesday (18 January) in Moscow. The Foreign Minister and her EU partners will use today’s meeting in Brussels to discuss their next steps and the path towards a de‑escalation of the tense situation. They are also set to consult on this issue with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will be joining them via video link.
Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Mali, the Sudan, the Indo-Pacific – a very busy agenda
While discussion of Russia and Ukraine will take up a great deal of space in today’s talks, other foreign policy issues are also on the agenda for the year’s first formal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council. The Foreign Ministers will discuss the situation in Syria, in Libya, in the Sudan and in Mali, as well as the EU’s involvement in the Indo-Pacific region.
The conflict in Syria continues and the situation has further deteriorated for large parts of the country’s civilian population in recent years. More than 13 million people in Syria are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Germany and the EU are strongly committed to bringing about a fair and lasting peace and a political process in Syria. We therefore support the work of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, who is striving to achieve precisely this. He will be in Brussels today to discuss the situation in Syria with the EU Foreign Ministers. The EU’s red lines in its dealings with the Assad regime remain: no normalisation, no lifting of sanctions and no support for reconstruction as long as the regime fails to credibly participate in UN‑led efforts to reach a political resolution to the conflict.
With regard to Libya, where the parliamentary and presidential elections planned for 24 December 2021 have been postponed, the EU Foreign Ministers will today discuss issues including the EU’s support for the democratic process. Germany welcomes the United Nations’ work in Libya. The UN is advocating a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process that will lead to the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections.
The EU Foreign Ministers also want to discuss other current affairs including the situation in Mali and in the Sudan as well as the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy and its implementation.