Minister Flanagan meeting with EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels14 March 2016
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD attended a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels, where Russia, Iran, Libya and the Middle East Peace Process were discussed.
Speaking after the meeting, Minister Flanagan spoke about Russia as the second anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea approached, he said:
"Foreign Ministers reaffirmed the unity which has been the cornerstone of the EU's approach towards Russia since the Ukraine crisis began. There was an openness to the idea of exploring engagement with Russia, but only where it would clearly contribute to building a partnership with a Russia that is committed to the rule of law and international standards. The illegal annexation of Crimea two years ago and Russia's ongoing actions in Ukraine remain central issues. The deterioration in the protection of human rights and civil society space in Russia is also troubling. EU Foreign Ministers also expressed deep concern over the situation of Nadiya Savchenko and called for her immediate release."
At their meeting, Foreign Ministers also discussed the Middle East Peace Process and Iran, and met with the UN Special Representative for Libya, Martin Kobler, to exchange views on how the EU can support the peace process in Libya. Minister Flanagan stated:
“In the Middle East Peace Process, standing still is going backwards. The violence of the last week – which I condemn – underlines that once more. Today, Foreign Ministers discussed French proposals to host a conference on the Middle East Peace Process. If these proposals provide some avenue for progress that is to be welcomed.
"On Libya, EU Foreign Ministers were united in calling on the House of Representatives to endorse the Government of National Accord proposed by the Libyan Presidency Council in February as soon as possible. This would allow the transition process to peace and stability to begin, to the benefit of all Libyans and to the wider region.
"The Council also held a brief discussion on relations with Iran, prior to the visit there next month of HRVP Mogherini. While there has been much focus on trade opportunities, today’s discussion was looking at other areas in which the EU could develop a broader relationship with Iran, in terms of cooperation on areas of mutual interest. Deeper engagement with Iran will also include a continuing emphasis on human rights issues which remain a major concern.”