Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels
Westerwelle at the Council meeting in Brussels
© Photothek / Th. Trutschel
On 19 November, the EU Foreign and Defence Ministers held a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. Their agenda included various trouble spots, and primarily the escalating situation in the Middle East. The Ministers moreover discussed the conflict in the West African state of Mali.
Focus on the escalating violence in the Middle East
Foreign and Defence Ministers met in Brussels against the backdrop of persistent violence in Gaza and southern Israel. The latest escalation of violence in the region and the Middle East peace process featured prominently in their deliberations.
The Ministers condemned the rocket attacks on Israel launched from the Gaza Strip. Israel had the right to defend itself but at the same time had to respect the principle of proportionality and make sure civilians were not harmed, the Ministers said. They pointed out that an immediate cessation of hostilities was in the interest of all sides. They described the present state of affairs as highlighting once again the urgency of making progress towards a two-state solution that enabled both parties to live in peace and security, side by side.
From Brussels, Foreign Minister Westerwelle travelled directly to Israel and to the Palestinian territories for political talks. Minister of State Michael Georg Link remained behind to act as his deputy.
Syria crisis spill-over into Lebanon to be avoided
During their meeting the Ministers underlined the importance of Lebanon’s national unity and stability. All political forces in the country were encouraged to support this. The Ministers condemned the repeated incursions by Syrian forces into Lebanese territory. A spill-over of the crisis into Lebanon had to be avoided, they said.
Resolution of the conflict in Mali
With regard to the situation in Mali EU High Representative Catherine Ashton presented a Crisis Management Concept which the Ministers discussed. A decision on the Concept is likely to be taken at the next Council meeting in December. The draft document outlines ways in which the European Union could support a stabilization mission for Mali. At a summit meeting on 11 November, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided to build a force of around 3300 soldiers in order to contribute to conflict resolution in Mali.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle has repeatedly advocated the idea of supporting the African efforts. The situation in Mali was important for the security and stability of the Saheland for European security, the Minister added. Speaking in Brussels on 19 November, Foreign Minister Westerwelle stressed that the main thrust of efforts to resolve the conflict had to be political rather than military.
The Council meeting’s agenda included several other issues, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo being one of them.
Last updated 19.11.2012