Foreign Minister Baerbock at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels: Focus on the situation in the Middle East, Ukraine and the Western Balkans

Foreign Minister Baerbock next to flags of the EU member states

Foreign Minister Baerbock in the Europa building in Brussels, © Kira Hofmann/photothek.de

13.11.2023 - Article

Foreign Minister Baerbock will meet with her EU counterparts in Brussels on Monday to discuss issues including the situation in the Middle East. A meeting with the Foreign Ministers from the Western Balkan countries is scheduled for the afternoon.

The disastrous humanitarian situation facing the people of Gaza remains the focus of European and international diplomats. Foreign Minister Baerbock will brief her EU colleagues today on her talks and the outcomes of her trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories (the West Bank) and Israel. One issue on the agenda will be ways of ensuring that there is a reliable supply of humanitarian relief to the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza. Furthermore, there will be a discussion on what a medium or long-term future for the civilian population in the Gaza Strip could look like. Foreign Minister Baerbock and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken proposed a course for this on the margins of the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting. The EU continues to promote a lasting and sustainable peace on the basis of the two‑state solution. This is the only way to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians have the prospect of living side by side – in two states and in peace, security and dignity:

Foreign Minister Baerbock issued the following statement after the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Tokyo (8 November):

When we think beyond today in order to provide prospects for a two‑state solution and for Gaza, we need to set a clear course: Firstly, this means that Gaza must not be able to pose a terrorist threat to Israel’s security in the future. Secondly, it means that the Palestinians must not be driven out of Gaza. Thirdly, it means that Gaza must not be occupied, but ideally be placed under international protection. Fourthly, it means that there should be no aim to reduce Gaza’s territory. And fifthly, it means that no solution can be decided above the heads of the Palestinian people and that the whole issue must be addressed in the understanding that the people in Israel and Palestine all have the right to finally live in peace and security in the future.

Other important issues for the EU: Ukraine, Western Balkans as well as the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Also on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council are the situation in Ukraine and the EU’s and its member states’ ongoing support for the country in light of the Russian war of aggression. As winter approaches, one crucial task is to protect critical energy and heating infrastructure. On its path towards EU membership, Ukraine has launched important reforms, including legislation on the media and oligarchs.

The German Government stands firmly by the side of Ukrainians on their path to the European Union. Foreign Minister Baerbock commented on the European Commission’s recommendation that accession talks with Ukraine be commenced: “The people of Ukraine are part of the European family. The start of the EU accession talks is the next step which we should take together. For a stronger, larger and united EU is the geopolitical answer to Russia’s war of aggression” (8 November).

In the afternoon, the EU Foreign Ministers will have an exchange in Brussels with their counterparts from the six Western Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. All six countries are heading towards EU membership. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has made the region’s rapid movement towards the EU a geopolitical necessity. Progress on the road towards EU membership is essential and will require reforms in the candidate countries, as well as unity and cohesion within the EU. What is more, the EU must implement reforms in preparation for the time when it has more than 30 member states.

The simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan will be another item on the agenda in Brussels. After Azerbaijan’s military operation several weeks ago in Nagorno-Karabakh, which belongs to Azerbaijan under international law, much of the local population fled to Armenia – over 100,000 people, according to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR. The EU has a civilian mission at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Foreign Minister Baerbock will brief her colleagues on her trip to Armenia and Azerbaijan, during which she also visited the EU monitoring mission. It is observing the situation on the ground and helping to stabilise Armenia’s border regions – a key prerequisite for launching a peace plan and normalising relations between the two countries.


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