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EU foreign ministers to discuss east Med, recent developments (updated)

Eu Foreign Ministers Council

Today’s EU’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting will discuss the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, with an update on the latest situation, but according to an EU official in charge of briefing the press in Brussels, no legal decisions on sanctions are expected.

In particular, as the EU official pointed out, the discussion on Turkey will take place during the regular meeting with a dual objective. On the one hand, the High Representative to brief the FM’s on “the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean and to assess the situation, on the other hand the body of Ministers to prepare the strategic debate for the leaders (September 24 and 25) “.

Regarding the proposals for adding names to the existing list of sanctions for violations in the Cyprus EEZ, the official said “the proposals of Cyprus are still being discussed – I do not know if there will be a decision on Monday, there will certainly be no legal decision”.

The EU official stressed that the Council expects Turkey to put an end to all activities that are an obstacle to dialogue with the EU. “Our goal is not to punish Turkey, but to change its behaviour,” he said.  “We still hope we can do it (change its behaviour),” he said. “We are still talking to Turkey in a friendly atmosphere,” he said, describing the current state of affairs.

He also called on Turkey to stop all illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus` EEZ.

As he said “we want a dialogue for our future relationship, but in order to do that all the negative developments must get out of the way, first we will solve our problems and then we will see the future relationship”.

Finally he noted the mediation effort by Germany and said that the situation was different from what was happening during the previous meeting, adding that “we have better prospects, as we have a dialogue”.

Arriving at the venue in Brussels, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides asked for “consistent reaction” by the EU to all infractions by third parties on human rights and Member States’ sovereign rights and called for the implementation of the Gymnich political decisions.

And he said:  “the reaction of the EU to human rights violations, our reaction to the violations of the sovereignty and the sovereign rights of our EU Members States, our reaction to any kind of violation of our core values and principles should not be à la carte. It needs to be consistent. I really believe that there is no deadlock to diplomacy. I am here. I am ready to implement the political decision that we reached at Gymnich”.

According to the agenda, FAC chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell will start at 09:30 CET with a discussion on current affairs.

Under this item ministers will review the most pressing issues on the international agenda, including matters relating to Lebanon, China, Turkey, Russia and Venezuela.

The Council will then exchange views on the latest developments that have taken place in Libya since the announcements made on 21 August 2020 by the Libyan political leaders on the way forward out of the crisis. The High Representative will also debrief ministers on his visit to the country on 1 September 2020.

After that, ministers will discuss relations between the EU and the African Union, in particular in preparation for the next EU-AU Foreign Ministers’ meeting. They will exchange views on both the joint EU-Africa priorities ahead, and possible outreach to African partners on the road to the next EU-AU Summit.

Ministers will also have an opportunity to be updated on the state of play in the post-Cotonou negotiations.

Finally, the Council will discuss the latest political developments in Belarus and potential EU support for national inclusive dialogue. Ministers will also be updated on EU financial support to the people of Belarus and on the initial findings of the review of EU-Belarus relations.

Over a working lunch, ministers will exchange views on the overall partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood and how it should be framed in the future. The Council is expected to conclude at 15:30 local time.

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