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Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels – Roth calls for clear language and a united stance on the US 

Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels

Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels , © European Commission

16.07.2018 - Article

On the day of the summit between Trump and Putin, the focus of the Foreign Affairs Council – the monthly meeting of EU Foreign Ministers – was also on relations with the US. Other important topics were Iran, Libya, the Eastern Partnership and North Korea.

On arrival, Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, said:

The US President is being provocative. He is trying to create a rift in the European Union. He describes us as a foe. We do not see it that way at all. There is a profound and close partnership between the US and the EU and we should not allow ourselves to be unsettled by these at times very aggressive, untruthful and not particularly constructive comments by the US President.

Roth said that it was now necessary to achieve the right level of unity in order to be taken seriously. Outrage alone would not help. What was needed was clear language and a united stance.

Talks on Iran

With regard to Iran, Roth saw the talks in Vienna on 7 July as a good basis for the EU to remain united even after the withdrawal by the US from the nuclear deal. At the meeting with the remaining parties to the JCPOA, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had underlined that the agreement must not be put at risk. Roth called for a strategy to be drawn up as regards Iran’s very destructive conduct in the region and the Iranian missile programme.

Libya - support and demands

Federica Mogherini reported on her latest talks in Tripoli. Germany is in favour of the EU playing a more active role and showing unity in its support for UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé. As regards treatment of refugees, however, Roth firmly believes that “Libya must uphold international humanitarian law. The aim of our endeavours to provide support is to ensure greater respect for international law and human rights.”

Making the Eastern Partnership a greater priority

“We need to make dialogue and exchange with our eastern partners a greater priority,” Roth said. The Eastern Partnership provides an attractive forum between equal partners for furthering democracy, the rule of law, and social and economic stability. Roth said that significant progress had been made, particularly in Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine. However, he added, there was “great concern about the democracy, rule-of-law and human rights situation in Moldova”.

North Korea – sanctions will not yet be scaled back

Roth welcomed Federica Mogherini’s plans to visit North Korea. “However, there are no signs whatsoever so far that we will halt our sanctions policy,” he added. “We need North Korea to take clear and verifiable steps towards denuclearisation – and as long as nothing happens in this regard, there can be no scaling back of the sanctions.”

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