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Foreign policy in a nutshell – Heiko Maas at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting 

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas shortly after arriving in Brussels

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas shortly after arriving in Brussels, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

19.03.2018 - Article

Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Iran, North Korea: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ first EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday (19 March) will highlight the world’s major crises.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets his British counterpart Boris Johnson
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas meets his British counterpart Boris Johnson© Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

One day after the presidential election in Russia and following the fourth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law, one focus of the March meeting has already been set in advance. Now the recent controversy in connection with the poisoning in Salisbury is putting extra strain on relations with the Russian Government. Foreign Minister Maas will meet his colleagues from Ukraine and the Baltic States on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council to discuss neighbourly relations with Moscow. On the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council, Foreign Minister Maas met with his colleague from the United Kingdom for discussions on how to proceed with regard to Moscow. Maas stated he was convinced that “Russia will remain a difficult partner. But Russia is also needed in efforts to resolve the major international conflicts. That is why we want to maintain our dialogue. At the same time, we also expect Russia to make constructive contributions – more so than it has done in the recent past.”

Talks with the UN Special Envoy for Syria

Syria, too, was on the agenda in Brussels. The EU Foreign Ministers spoke with UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura about the disastrous situation on the ground. Ending the fighting and facilitating humanitarian access to those in need must remain the central priority.

Maintaining the nuclear agreement with Iran 

The Foreign Affairs Council also addressed the issue of Iran. The EU is currently endeavouring to maintain the nuclear deal with Tehran. At the same time, there is concern about Iran’s role in the region as well as its missile programme. The structured dialogue with Iran is therefore to be continued.

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