Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Ministers had a discussion on the situation in Belarus and the issue of migrants being pushed towards the EU’s borders in an orchestrated attempt to have them enter the EU illegally.

The Council stood united against the ongoing hybrid aggression against the EU.

We are looking at all possible options to stop the regime from targeting us and from targeting its own population, and we agreed to expand the scope of the sanctions regime on Belarus. From now on we will be able to sanction more people over their activities in the organisation of these flights of people from several countries going to Belarus and from there to the EU’s borders. We also agreed on adopting the 5th package of sanctions, which will be finalised in the coming days. – Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Belarus must stop instrumentalising migrants

The High Representative then informed ministers about his outreach activities to try to convince Minsk to stop using migration for political objectives.

The High Representative underlined the full responsibility of Belarus in artificially creating the migrants’ flow and explained that the EU would work with international organisations such as the United Nations in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to those in need.

Dialogue will be re-established when the Lukashenko regime will stop violations and start to respect the human rights of its own people in Belarus.

Western Balkans

Foreign Affairs Ministers had a discussion on concrete ways to strengthen the EU’s engagement with the Western Balkans beyond enlargement. They focused in particular on how to involve Western Balkans partners in EU’s foreign policy discussions, and enhance cooperation on cyber security, hybrid threats and other instances such as the use of space data.

The Council also had a discussion on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The High Representative stressed the EU’s commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European perspective as a single, united and sovereign country, and the need for Bosnian leaders to resume dialogue, return to state institutions in full capacity and restart work on key reforms.

On the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, ministers reiterated their expectation that Kosovo and Serbia fully respect and implement all previous agreements, and constructively engage to make rapid progress on the comprehensive normalisation of their relations.

The Sahel

The Foreign Affairs Council exchanged views on the situation in the Sahel, during which it stressed the EU’s engagement in the region.

Ministers agreed that the EU must keep delivering on the implementation of the Sahel Strategy and the Sahel Coalition roadmap, to face the difficult situation in the region.

The Council also discussed the deteriorating situation in Mali, where the elections scheduled in February were illegitimately postponed by the leaders of the transition.

We agreed to establish a dedicated framework for restrictive measures in Mali, supporting the decision taken by ECOWAS. Work will continue and hopefully be finalised quickly. This will allow us to adopt sanctions against those obstructing the transition. We also touched upon the possible involvement of the Wagner group, and there was consensus to also take restrictive measures against this group.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Specific proposals to designate individuals and entities under existing EU sanctions regimes are being assessed in the relevant working groups, and will be considered for possible adoption in view of the next Foreign Affairs Council.

Current Affairs

Ministers were informed about Turkey’s unilateral moves to change Varosha‘s status quo, in breach of UN Security Council resolutions. The Council expressed its strong solidarity with Cyprus and the will to transform this solidarity into concrete proposals on how to address the situation. An option paper will soon be presented to EU ambassadors sitting in COREPER, with a view to preparing the ground for a discussion at the December Foreign Affairs Council.

Ethiopia was also discussed, with a focus on the situation in Tigray that, one year after the beginning of the conflict, has further worsened creating a devastating humanitarian crisis. The High Representative restated that there is no military solution to the conflict, and everything must be done to spare the Ethiopian citizens from the chaos of a full fledged civil war. The EU stands fully behind the efforts of the region and the African Union in offering a table for talks.

The Council then touched on Sudan. An immediate return to the path of civilian led transition to democracy remains the one and only road to freedom, peace and justice for all Sudanese. The High Representative stressed the need for a dialogue between all parties, welcomed all mediations efforts and called on the military to respect human rights and international humanitarian laws.

Council conclusions

The Council approved conclusions on:

  • the 6th Review Conference of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Certain Conventional Weapons
  • the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Strategic Compass

In a joint session, foreign affairs and defence ministers exchanged views on the first draft of the EU Strategic Compass, which is due to provide clear political-strategic guidance on the EU approach to security and defence in the next 5 to 10 years.

Meeting information
  • Meeting n°3826
  • Brussels
  • 15 November 2021
Preparatory documents
Outcome documents
Press releases


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