Maas in Brussels for the Foreign Affairs Council and the NATO Foreign Ministerial

Foreign Minister Maas is travelling to Brussels

Foreign Minister Maas is travelling to Brussels, © Xander Heinl/photothek.de

22.03.2021 - Article

Today’s Foreign Affairs Council will focus on the situation in Myanmar, relations with Turkey and the EU’s new human rights sanctions regime.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas left for Brussels this morning (22 March) to attend two important meetings. EU Foreign Ministers are meeting in person today to hold consultations and adopt new decisions on EU foreign policy. And from tomorrow, NATO Foreign Ministers will hold a two‑day meeting, the first ministerial to be attended by the new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

Myanmar ‒ talks on sanctions

There is no end to the disturbing images and reports from Yangon and other cities in Myanmar. The police and security forces are taking increasingly brutal action against peaceful demonstrators and many people have been killed or injured. People rightfully expect a return to the legitimised democratic structures. Heiko Maas will therefore discuss sanctions against the military junta with his EU counterparts today. It is crucial that the sanctions specifically target those responsible for the violence against civilians and do not impact the population itself. The aim is to further increase pressure on the military in order to achieve a political solution to the crisis.

Turkey and the human rights sanctions regime

Relations with Turkey are also on the agenda of today’s Foreign Affairs Council. On the one hand, there are new problematic domestic‑policy developments, such as the legal process to ban the HDP party and Turkey’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. On the other hand, there are signs of détente in the eastern Mediterranean ‒ all drilling and exploration activities have currently been halted and direct talks are being held between Ankara and Athens. Germany had lobbied for the resumption of direct talks.

The Foreign Affairs Council will also hold an informal exchange today with Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Human rights are under pressure in many places in the world, such as Myanmar, Belarus and Ethiopia. Under Germany’s Presidency of the EU Council, the EU agreed on a new human rights sanctions regime. The idea is that measures will not be aimed against specific states, but rather that this instrument will sanction various cases of serious human rights violations worldwide. The Foreign Ministers will discuss the first global listings in this sanctions regime today.

NATO Foreign Ministerial

NATO Foreign Ministers will meet in person from tomorrow for the first time since 2019. Their talks will focus on the reflection process on NATO’s future. Foreign Minister Maas played a significant part in the launch of this process, which will now be on the agenda as the NATO 2030 strategy process. The agenda will also include the situation in Afghanistan and relations with Russia. Foreign Minister Maas will hold talks today with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.


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