Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, attended the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday (14 and 15 March). The talks focused on Russia, migration and Libya.
Condemnation of the attacks in Ankara and Grand Bassam
On arrival in Brussels on Monday morning, Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, condemned the previous day’s attacks in Turkey and Côte d'Ivoire in strong terms: “We are utterly shocked,” he said in the run-up to the Foreign Affairs Council meeting. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. All of us have a duty to strengthen our commitment to the fight against terrorism on the international level.”
“We must not leave Greece to cope on its own”
With a view to the EU Foreign Ministers’ talks, Roth underlined that migration would be a key point on the agenda. The Minister of State was optimistic. “We are very close to a European solution,” he said. The topic of humanitarian assistance was also on the agenda for the following day. It was important not to leave Greece to cope on its own, Roth said.
Idomeni will show whether the European Union will in fact succeed in fulfilling its humanitarian commitments.
A united stance on Russia
The debate on Russia was a major item on the agenda of the Foreign Ministers’ talks. Roth said there was strong consensus among the Foreign Ministers on three crucial issues: firstly, the EU had to remain united; secondly, a clear and resolute message was needed with regard to the implementation of the Minsk agreements; and thirdly, perseverance was also needed as regards offers to engage in dialogue with Russia – this should include dialogue with the younger generation in particular.
The vulnerability of democratic processes also played an important role in this matter. Minister of State Roth emphasised that “we do not want to react to Russian propaganda with counter-propaganda.” It was crucial, he said, to strengthen media pluralism in the European Union, particularly in eastern Europe, citing Deutsche Welle, which is very active in Ukraine, as an example. Estonia was also receiving support as regards providing broad media coverage so that “Russian propaganda is simply one voice among many”. Minister of State Roth summed up as follows:
I am very pleased we reached consensus once again today that this is exactly the path the European Union should support. The European External Action Service has already launched its own activities in this area, which we also support.
The situation in Libya involves “obstacles that need to be overcome”
The EU Foreign Ministers also discussed the situation in Libya with Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. At the weekend, the European Union had reiterated its support for the formation of a government of national unity in the country. “However,” Roth said, “a range of obstacles still need to be overcome.” The European Union and its Member States planned to “fully support” the Special Representative’s work.
Dealing with Iran and the possibilities for reviving the Middle East peace process were further topics on the agenda of the talks in Brussels.