EU Foreign Ministers meeting
Westerwelle with his colleagues Reynders, Fabius and Asselborn (from left to right)
© dpa / picture alliance
At the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 25 June, the Foreign Ministers of the EU member states once again tightened the sanctions on Syria. Other important topics were the situation in Egypt after the presidential election, the Iranian nuclear programme, developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as human rights. The German national Patricia Flor was also appointed EU Special Representative for Central Asia.
The Foreign Ministers reacted to the escalating violence in Syria with what is now the 16th round of sanctions. While the repression continues, the EU will continue to impose sanctions on the regime, as EU High Representative Catherine Ashton underscored. She went on to say that they are directed at those responsible for the violence, not at the civilian population. The Council decided to freeze the assets of six further entities that are supporting the regime. A travel ban was imposed on one more individual whose assets were also frozen. There are now 129 individuals and 49 entities close to the regime which are subject to restrictive measures.
In their Council conclusions on Syria, the EU Foreign Ministers condemned the ongoing violence against civilians in Syria and reaffirmed their “full support” for the six-point plan drawn up by Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy. The Ministers again emphasized that the EU considers the Syrian security forces to bear the bulk of the responsibility for the ceasefire and the implementation of Annan’s plan. At the same time, the Ministers appealed to Syrian opposition groups to join forces and, despite possible differences of opinion, to work together for a peaceful transition in Syria. All opposition groups are called upon to give their full support to the Annan plan.
Catherine Ashton at the European council
© The Council of the European Union
The EU Foreign Ministers also focused on the situation in Egypt following the presidential election. It is now up to newly elected President Mohammed Morsi and his government to ensure that the vision driven by the demonstrators in Tahrir Square is realized, as Catherine Ashton pointed out. She went on to say that the EU is aware of the enormous economic challenges the country faces and is ready to provide Egypt with both economic and political support.
In their Council conclusions on Egypt, the EU Foreign Ministers signalled they were “seriously concerned” about recent developments such as the dissolution of Parliament which they maintain delays the transition and the full handover to civilian rule.
Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy
The EU Foreign Ministers also adopted an EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy and an action plan for putting it into practice. This is the first time the European Union has developed a strategic framework for this key political field. “With this comprehensive package, we want to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of EU human rights policy,” the High Representative explained. An EU Special Representative on Human Rights is also to be appointed.
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton also brought the Foreign Ministers up to date on the most recent E3+3 negotiations with Iran in Moscow. Developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the situation in Pakistan were also discussed.
German national appointed EU Special Representative for Central Asia
The German diplomat Patricia Flor, to date Director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia in the German Foreign Office, was appointed EU Special Representative for Central Asia. Starting on 1 July, she is to use this role to advance relations between the EU and Central Asian countries further and promote stability, cooperation and democracy in the region. A central focus of her work is to be implementing the EU Strategy for Central Asia.
Last updated 25.06.2012