EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss Syria, Iran, Mali, and the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood in Luxembourg

EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss Syria, Iran, Mali, and the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood in Luxembourg

Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Press release 232/2012

The EU Foreign Ministers will gather for a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 15 October. The meeting agenda includes the situation in the EU’s southern neighbourhood, the Middle East peace process, Iran, Mali, the EU’s Eastern Partnership and relations between the EU and China. Finland will be represented at the meeting by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja.

The discussion about the southern neighbourhood will focus, in particular, on the humanitarian and refugee situation in Syria and the EU’s possibilities to support efforts to resolve the conflict. Also on the agenda is the extension of EU restrictive measures focusing on the Syrian administration. With regard to Egypt, the Ministers will discuss the EU’s preparations for the meeting of the EU–Egypt Task Force to take place in Cairo on 13–14. November, the aim of which is to support economic and social development in Egypt.

The Foreign Ministers will also discuss topical perspectives on the Middle East peace process. Of particular concern at the moment is the very weak economic situation of the Palestinian Authority.

In addition, the Foreign Affairs Council will discuss the latest situation with regard to Iran’s nuclear programme as well as future prospects for negotiations between the EU3+3 group and Iran and the state of cooperation between the IAEA and Iran. The extension of EU sanctions set because of Iran’s nuclear programme is also on agenda.

As to the eastern neighbourhood, the discussion will focus on Georgia and Belarus. The elections held in Georgia in early October were deemed to be successful, and the Ministers will discuss, among other things, future cooperation between the EU and Georgia, in order to continue the reforms. The EU is concerned about developments in Belarus, where elections were held in late September. The current situation in Belarus and the EU sanctions imposed on the country are on the agenda for discussion by the Ministers. 

The Council will also discuss the Sahel region and in particular the situation in Mali. Possibilities to support the security sector in Mali through the EU crisis management operation focusing on training will be discussed. Furthermore, the Ministers will discuss support for activities of the West African Economic Community ECOWAS in order to find a solution to the crisis.

The Foreign Ministers will also discuss relations between the EU and China in the light of the results of the EU–China Summit held in September and ahead of China’s leadership change.

The dinner guest on 14 October, the night before the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, will be Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia. The discussion then will focus especially on bilateral issues between the EU and Russia, such as visa questions and energy cooperation. Topical international issues, such as Syria and Iran, may also arise during the discussion. In addition, the discussion will pave the way for the next EU–Russia Summit, to be held in Brussels in December.

Additional information: European Correspondent Tarja Fernández, mobile tel. +358 40 590 9855, Assistant Johanna Laine, mobile tel. +358 40 526 7579