Dimitrios Avramopoulos (Greece)
Image by European External Action Service – EEAS
Sanctions against Syria and Iran were two of the main talking points of the monthly meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers on Monday 15 October. Also on the agenda was the instability in Mali and human rights concerns in Belarus.
Ministers also discussed Development and in particular the post Millennium Development Goals framework and the follow-up to the Rio+20 summit. Read more about the full results of the Council – Chaired by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton at consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/for…
Syria crisis – solidarity with the people
The Council, reiterating that the EU stands by the Syrian people in its courageous struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy, underlined its deep concern at the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in neighbouring countries in terms of security and stability. Given the increasing violence, the Council reinforced once more the sanctions against the Syrian regime.
Iranian Nuclear programme – "serious" concerns and more sanctions
The Council repeated its serious and deepening concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme and the urgent need for Iran to comply with all its international obligations. At the same time, it reaffirmed the EU’s longstanding commitment to work for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue in accordance with the dual track approach. Given Iran’s flagrant violation of its international obligations and continuous refusal to fully co-operate with the IAEA to address the concerns on its nuclear programme, the Council agreed additional restrictive measures.
Mali – support for restoration of rule of law and democratic government
Ministers expressed their continuing concern at the serious political and security crisis affecting Mali and the EU’s determination to support Mali in restoring the rule of law and re-establishing a fully sovereign democratic government with authority throughout Malian territory. The Council invited the High Representative to develop a crisis management concept relating to the reorganisation and training of the Malian defence forces, taking account of the conditions necessary for success.
Belarus – concern about "lack of respect for human rights, democracy"
The Council noted the importance which it attaches to Belarus and to its citizens, and remained gravely concerned about the lack of respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law in that country. As not all political prisoners have been released and no released prisoner has been rehabilitated, and against the background of the lack of improvement as regards the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles, the Council prolonged the existing restrictive measures until 31 October 2013.
Millennium Development Goals – debate on post MDG framework
The development ministers had a debate to prepare the post MDGs/2015 framework and follow-up to the Rio+20 summit. They also exchanged views on EU support for sustainable change in transition societies and subsequently discussed the EU approach to resilience.
The Council adopted conclusions without debate on Europe’s engagement with civil society in external relations, setting a renewed EU policy in support of civil society, with a focus on long-term partnerships with civil society organisations from partner countries. It also adopted conclusions on social protection in European Union development cooperation and on financing for development.
The EEAS covered the Foreign Affairs Council on Storify. Click storify.com/EEAS/october-foreign-affairs-council to see the full overview.