“The awarding of the Nobel peace prize to the European Union strengthens our determination and our responsibility to continue our efforts for peace, also in our southern neighbourhood,” stated Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, in a doorstep statement prior to the commencement of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting in Luxembourg which took place on Monday, October 15.
“We are, obviously, discussing Syria. The situation is unfortunately worsening; we must concentrate on how to stop the killing and the violence and how to help a political transition that would transform the country towards an all-inclusive democracy.” The Cypriot Minister also reiterated that the EU fully supports the efforts of UN - Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, and stressed that the UN and the League of Arab States should have the lead, with the full backing of the European Union.
The FAC later agreed on a Statement welcoming the awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU as “an encouragement and an obligation to continue building a strong and united Europe,” which constitutes a model for peace and reconciliation for other parts of the world.
It was a heavy agenda for the FAC, which included discussions on the Middle East Peace Process, as well as the upcoming Ministerial Meeting of the EU and the League of Arab States and the EU- Egypt Task Force which will take place on November 14. Iran was also discussed, with ministers agreeing on the continuation of talks with Tehran on its nuclear programme, while at the same time strengthening restrictive measures. Ministers also agreed on strengthened restrictive measures for Syria, adopting Council Conclusions which also focus on the regional implications of the crisis and the EU's political and humanitarian response.
EU Foreign Affairs Ministers also discussed the situation in Mali/Sahel, and adopted Council Conclusions setting out an intensified EU response, including the commencement of preparations for a CSDP Mission in Mali with the view to train and reorganise the army of the country. Dr. Marcoullis called for cooperation with international and regional partners and welcomed the appointment of Mr. Romano Prodi as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Mali.
Ministers also exchanged views on the follow-up to the EU-China Summit held on September 20, in view of the discussion on China foreseen at the upcoming October European Council. During lunch, they also discussed the Eastern Neighbourhood, with special focus on the political situation in Belarus, and Georgia following elections.
In the margins of the FAC
In the margins of the FAC, the Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister participated in an informal dinner of EU Foreign Ministers with the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the evening of October 14, where international issues as well as EU-Russia relations were discussed.
“We had a frank discussion on all bilateral and international issues; we should have discussions like these more often,” stated Minister Marcoullis. “We have always maintained that engagement with Russia is important, so I think yesterday’s discussion was very productive.”
Prior to the official commencement of the FAC, Dr. Marcoullis participated in an informal meeting on the Report for the Future of Europe, hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Luxembourg.
Later this afternoon, Dr. Marcoullis will participate in the Foreign Affairs Council on Development policy. Issues on the agenda include the post-2015 global framework and the follow-up to Rio +20. Ministers will also discuss the joint Commission-EEAS Communication on "EU Support for Sustainable Change in Transition Societies".
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