Support for Ukraine and Middle East crisis diplomacy – Foreign Minister Baerbock at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg

Foreign Minister Baerbock at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg

Foreign Minister Baerbock at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, © Kira Hofmann

22.04.2024 - Article

The EU Foreign Ministers are meeting today in Luxembourg for the Foreign Affairs Council. On the agenda: Russia’s war against Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East and in the Sudan.

The EU Foreign Ministers are gathering in Luxembourg today for their monthly Council meeting. For Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, this is a further staging post in the ongoing crisis diplomacy following on from her visit to Israel last week and the meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers in Italy. Support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s war of aggression and the situation in the Middle East continue to top the agenda.

Working together to provide rapid support for Ukraine’s air defence

The current military situation in Ukraine will be a central focus of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to be attended not only by the EU Foreign Ministers but also colleagues from the defence ministries. At the start of the meeting, they will be joined by the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defence Minister Rustem Umerov by video link. For the Federal Government, this first agenda item will be all about teamwork: Foreign Minister Baerbock and Siemtje Möller, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence, will take part together. Both will again advocate making vital air defence systems available to Ukraine quickly. Foreign Minister Baerbock and Defence Minister Pistorius launched this initiative, Immediate Action on Air Defence, last week. The aim is for partner countries from the EU, NATO and elsewhere to coordinate and rapidly supply Ukraine with air defence systems and the ammunition required. The Federal Government announced a few days ago that it will provide Ukraine with a further patriot system without delay. Germany and the EU stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. Our financial, humanitarian, military and economic assistance continues.

Ukraine’s recovery is also a priority. The destruction caused by Russia is having a major impact on people’s everyday lives. Russia’s warfare focuses intentionally on civilian infrastructure, fully aware of the resulting suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of civilians. With a view to strengthening international support both from states and the private sector, Ukraine and Germany are together hosting a recovery conference in June. The Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2024) will bring together leading representatives from governments, international organisations, the private sector and civil society. It will be held in Berlin on 11 and 12 June 2024.

Solidarity with Israel following Iran’s attack: crisis diplomacy continues

Following on from the video conference held by EU Foreign Ministers last Tuesday, discussions will also centre on the crisis in the Middle East. The Federal Government and the EU reacted to the Iranian regime’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel by voicing harsh criticism of Iran and solidarity with Israel. Foreign Minister Baerbock was in Israel for talks at the highest level last week. She took the opportunity of assuring Israeli partners of Germany’s full solidarity. Following last week’s developments, the focus is still on how to prevent a further escalation which would mean more and more violence.

What is important is to halt Iran without bringing about a further escalation. Thus the EU will also discuss its next steps with regard to Iran behind closed doors today in Luxembourg. In recent years and months, the EU has on several occasions imposed sanctions on Iran as a reaction to its human rights violations, activities relating to its nuclear programme and the military support shown for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In Luxembourg, the Foreign Ministers will talk about further steps to be taken by the EU.

It will also discuss the desolate humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in the Gaza Strip remains a focus of crisis diplomacy. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock once again made her position clear last week in Israel. She underscored the importance of more humanitarian goods finally reaching the stricken civilian population by road. The EU will continue to bring its full diplomatic weight to bear to this end and work with partners worldwide and in the region to push for an improvement in the humanitarian situation.

A year after the conflict began: the situation in the Sudan

A brutal civil war has been underway for more than a year in the Sudan, with the figures speaking volumes: almost 15,000 lives have been lost and around 8.5 million people displaced, the healthcare system has collapsed and the country been reduced to rubble. During her trip to the neighbours of the Sudan in January 2024, Foreign Minister Baerbock proposed a five-point initiative designed to lend more weight to international peace efforts. One central point of the initiative is to better coordinate international mediation efforts in order to increase the pressure on the parties to the conflict.

At an international conference a week ago in Paris, Foreign Minister Baerbock, her French counterpart Séjourné and the EU were able to mobilise international assistance for the suffering population to the tune of more than two billion euro. The conference in Paris was important also with a view to giving fresh impetus to mediation efforts in the civil war. The EU Foreign Ministers will today also talk about the next steps to improve access for humanitarian assistance for the country ravaged by civil war. Discussions in Luxembourg will also explore routes out of the crisis and ways of strengthening efforts to bring peace.


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