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Minister Flanagan to attend EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss Syria, Iraq and Ukraine

Minister Flanagan to attend EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss Syria, Iraq and Ukraine

Foreign Affairs Ministers from across the EU will gather in Brussels today for the first Foreign Affairs Council meeting of 2016. The situation in Iraq, the peace process in Syria and Ukraine will be on the agenda. Speaking in advance of the meeting Minister Flanagan said:

The ongoing instability in Syria and the wider region poses a threat to global peace and security.

“I call on all parties to support the UN’s efforts to find a resolution to the crisis in Syria and to commit themselves to work sincerely and with urgency for a nationwide ceasefire, a negotiated peace agreement which will protect the rights of the Syrian people and preserve the pluralistic character, unity and sovereignty of a free and democratic Syria at peace.

“The conflict in Syria has had a horrific impact on the civilian population. The denial of access for humanitarian relief by the parties to the conflict is unacceptable and must end; so must practices such as besieging and starving communities into submission. I call on all parties to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law and ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.

“In December, the EU reaffirmed its strong support for the achievement of a united, sovereign and inclusive Iraq which serves the rights of Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicities. I look forward to discussing how the EU can continue to support the domestic reform agenda of the Government of PM Haidar Al-Abadi, and the process of national reconciliation in Iraq."

Ministers will also meet with the Foreign Minister of Jordan, Mr. Nasser Judeh, to exchange views on the EU’s political engagement with Jordan. Minister Flanagan said:

Jordan has borne, and continues to bear, an enormous burden on foot of the conflict in Syria. I look forward to hearing from Foreign Minister Judeh, as we seek to advance EU-Jordan cooperation in our common aim to bring stability to the Middle East region.”

Minister Flanagan has also welcomed the progress made on the lifting of EU sanctions on Iran. In a statement made ahead of the Council meeting, the Minister said:

“I welcome the news that the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified the implementation of Iran's nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in line with what was agreed last July. This is a critical landmark in the implementation of that agreement and EU sanctions will now be lifted. This agreement represents an important cooperative effort to deal with one source of tension in a region that already suffers from instability and conflict.”

Speaking about Ukraine, the Minister said:

“I welcome the progress made thus far by Ukraine in implementing its ambitious and unprecedented programme of reform. This positive momentum must be maintained and indeed accelerated in 2016. The EU remains fully committed to supporting and assisting Ukraine in this regard. It is important that the Minsk Agreements be fully implemented. Their implementation provides a strong framework for the achievement of a lasting and peaceful resolution to the current conflict.”

18 JANUARY 2016