Libya and Syria on the agenda of the EU Foreign Ministers

Jean Asselborn, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Heiko Maas and Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, © Janine Schmitz/photothek.net

17.02.2020 - Article

The EU Foreign Affairs Council discussed a potential EU mission to monitor the arms embargo in Libya and ways to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Maas: EU must do its part in Libya

At the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January 2020, the participants pledged, among other things, to fully respect the arms embargo set down in United Nations Security Council resolution 1970. This was reiterated at the Foreign Ministers meeting held on 16 February on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference. However, at the moment arms deliveries to the crisis region are evidently continuing. In Brussels, the EU Foreign Ministers therefore agreed to participate in monitoring the UN arms embargo in future. An operation with air, sea and satellite components is to be launched to this end.

Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement in Brussels:

The intensive talks today have resulted in a fundamental decision: the EU will play a part in monitoring the arms embargo in Libya. We will now elaborate the details of the new mission, which will include a maritime component. This is a major step forward for the Berlin Process. The aim is to prevent further arms deliveries to the parties to the civil war in Libya. To achieve this, we also need a maritime component in the eastern Mediterranean, through which the routes pass.

Syria: putting an end to the humanitarian crisis

The escalating situation in Syria was also on the agenda. According to the United Nations, since December 2019, 800,000 people have already been driven out of the Idlib region as a result of the offensive by the Assad regime. The Assad regime troops are now just a few kilometres away from the gates of the city of Idlib, where 700,000 people still remain. If they advance further, it may become impossible to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected.

Foreign Minister Maas discussed with his EU colleagues how further escalation in Idlib could be avoided and how to find a solution for supplying humanitarian aid to the people in need. Moreover, the Foreign Affairs Council agreed to extend the EU sanctions regime for Syria. Eight additional individuals and two more enterprises were added to the lists.

Further topics: EU relations with India and the African Union

The Foreign Affairs Council also discussed the EU’s relations with India and the African Union. EU High Representative Josep Borrell reported on his meeting with development cooperation ministers on Africa on 13 February and on the EU strategy on Africa that is currently being drafted. Furthermore, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was invited to a working luncheon against the backdrop of the planned EU-India summit on 13 March 2020.


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