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Belarus, Libya and the gas dispute in the eastern Mediterranean to be discussed at today’s EU Foreign Affairs Council

Foreign Minister Maas in Brussels

Foreign Minister Maas in Brussels, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

21.09.2020 - Article

In Brussels the EU Foreign Ministers are discussing the situation in Belarus today. Other issues on the agenda include Libya and the Turkish-Greek gas dispute in the eastern Mediterranean.

Maas: We have to consider EU sanctions against Lukashenko personally

Foreign Minister Maas in Brussels
Foreign Minister Maas in Brussels© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

The security apparatus in Belarus continues to act with unrelenting severity against its own people. President Lukashenko is still rejecting offers of dialogue and mediation. After several hundred demonstrators were again arrested in Minsk and other cities at the weekend, the EU Foreign Ministers will discuss today how the pressure on Lukashenko can be kept up.

In Brussels, Germany will call for the swift adoption of the sanctions package on the table – irrespective of further developments in Belarus – as well as a further extension of the sanctions to include Lukashenko personally. Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council, Foreign Minister Maas reaffirmed:

There has been no improvement in Belarus. The violence against peaceful protesters is absolutely unacceptable. We will therefore also examine today whether we as the EU have to impose sanctions on Mr Lukashenko as the individual who bears the main responsibility politically.

Eastern Mediterranean: Taking advantage of the opportunity for diplomacy

The gas dispute in the eastern Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey will also be discussed during the consultations in Brussels. Last week, the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis returned to port in Antalya after searching for gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. This first step towards de-escalation was welcomed by the Greek side. Prior to the start of the meeting, Foreign Minister Maas commented as follows on the German Government’s efforts to de-escalate the tense situation:

In our capacity as holders of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we remain convinced that it is necessary to bring Greece and Turkey together around the table. We also believe that this is possible and want to use the diplomatic window between now and the European Council at the end of this week for this.

Libya: Progress in the political process

Außenminister Heiko Maas und sein französischer Kollege Jean-Yves Le Drian
Außenminister Heiko Maas und sein französischer Kollege Jean-Yves Le Drian© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

At today’s meeting, EU High Representative Josep Borrell intends to brief his colleagues on his trip to Libya on 1 September and discuss how the EU can support the recent progress in the political process. At the recent talks in Montreux from 7 to 9 September, which were guided by the United Nations, an agreement in principle on the future of the political process was reached among the key Libyan political camps.

What is more, the European Foreign Ministers will make a decision today on new EU sanctions listings relating to violations of the UN arms embargo against Libya.

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