The Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday (20 July) focused on the further implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran and on supporting stability in Tunisia.
Importance of implementing the Iran agreement
Two continents, one topic – at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in the Belgian capital, the talks focused on the nuclear agreement with Iran and its further implementation. Early in the afternoon, while the Foreign Affairs Council was meeting, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that paves the way for a gradual lifting of the UN sanctions against Iran, thus endorsing the agreement reached with Iran in Vienna last week. Further information on UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Earlier this morning, Foreign Minister Steinmeier had underlined that Europe’s responsibility did not end with the signing of the agreement, but rather that it was a matter of implementing it. In the afternoon, he added that the UN Security Council Resolution should “help to ensure that what was agreed will indeed apply in the future”. He also reiterated the importance of the agreement: “For the first time in decades of a downward spiral (...) involving the erosion of structures and even chaos, we have succeeded in reaching an agreement that also proves there are other ways to resolve conflicts.”
Tunisia: EU reiterates its support
Tunisian Prime Minister Essid and Foreign Minister Baccouche also attended today’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting. The EU foreign ministers approved conclusions on Tunisia in which they reiterated their condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks in the country, that is, the attack in Sousse on 26 June that claimed the lives of 38 tourists just three months after the attack on the Bardo Museum in the heart of Tunis. The foreign ministers also expressed their willingness to provide further support to the democratic transition in Tunisia.
To this end, the European Union will focus on boosting its support in economic cooperation and security sector reform. The European External Action Service will draw up plans for EU support for border protection and training for Tunisian security forces. The aim of closer collaboration on border protection is to enable Tunisia to improve its control of the border to neighbouring Libya.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier underlined that keeping “radical elements” out of Tunisia is the aim of border control. “Tunisia is a country that is standing up to the authoritarian and radical tendencies in the entire region with fortitude, courage and determination,” he said. This is why Europe “has an interest in ensuring that this Tunisian role model does not merely survive, but also flourishes and develops”.
Talks with UN Special Representative León
With regard to the difficult situation in Libya, the EU foreign ministers emphasised their support for political dialogue and used the opportunity for a meeting with Bernardino León, UN Special Representative in Libya. The foreign ministers said that the agreement reached between most of the conflict parties in Skhirat (Morocco) on 11 July was a very important step in Libya’s internal political process and urged the parties to continue on this path.
Shock over the attack in Suruç
On the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting, Foreign Minister Steinmeier condemned the terrorist attack in the Turkish city of Suruç on the border to Syria. He said he was particularly appalled by the fact that the perpetrators had targeted an event attended by young people. According to media reports, at least 30 people were killed in the attack, while many more were injured. Steinmeier said the attack in Suruç showed that “we must not waver in our fight against terrorism”. “Turkey is a very important partner in this fight.”