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Minister attends Eastern Partnership Ministerial, meets with EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels


Minister Flanagan attends the Eastern Partnership Ministerial and meets with EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels

- Migration, the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, Syria, Iraq and the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh discussed
- Minister commends crew of LÉ Róisín following successful rescue mission

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, today attended a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels, where Migration, the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, and Syria, Iraq and the threat posed by ISIL/Da’esh, were discussed. The minister informed foreign ministers of the rescue mission undertaken by the crew of the naval vessel LE Róisín earlier today in the seas north of Tripoli.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

“The migration crisis remains a top EU priority and my colleagues and I had a useful stocktake on some of the major outstanding issues. I welcome the big decline in the number of migrants risking their lives to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey. The core aim of the agreement negotiated by European leaders with Turkey in March was to break the business model of the people smugglers profiting from the suffering of vulnerable people. Commendable progress has been made in achieving this.

"Ireland is continuing to play its role in helping to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees in difficult situations. We have provided substantial financial assistance to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable migrants, and our Naval Service continues to conduct a humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean in cooperation with our Italian friends. Indeed, while Foreign Ministers were meeting in Brussels, the LÉ Róisín was engaged in a lifesaving operation in the Mediterranean. I want to commend the men and women of the Irish naval services who helped rescue 274 people from the seas north of Tripoli this morning.

"The root causes driving the migration crisis remain at the heart of our agenda. The continued conflict in Syria underlines the need for an effective EU foreign policy that can address the political and security challenges to EU interests and values posed by violence and instability in Syria. The flight of millions of Syrians from the murderous Assad regime, which continues to wage a cruel war against millions of its own people, is a priority for Ireland and the EU. I reiterated our full support for a strong EU position in support of the UN’s efforts to reach a political solution to the conflict and UN work to break the sieges which are denying basic humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of Syrians."

Ministers also discussed the ongoing work on a new 'Global Strategy on Foreign and Security policy'. Minister Flanagan said:

"The EU is currently facing unprecedented challenges, including the migration crisis and the threat of terrorism. This time is right for this review of the EU’s foreign and security policy, which is being led by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini. In our discussion, I highlighted key issues of importance for Ireland in this regard, including that the strategy reflect the importance of the promoting and protection of human rights, development, conflict resolution and global governance in addressing instability in our neighbourhood and thereby ensuring the security of the European Union as a whole.”

Prior to the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Minister Flanagan attended the Eastern Partnership Ministerial which brought together the EU Foreign Ministers with the Foreign Ministers of the six Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan).

Minister Flanagan said:

“Ireland reiterated its support for the Eastern Partnership as an effective framework for cooperation and dialogue with our Eastern neighbours. We discussed the progress that has been made in implementing the Eastern Partnership and identified priorities for the year ahead, in preparation for the next Eastern Partnership Summit due to take place in 2017.”

23 MAY 2016