Middle East and Ukraine top agenda as Minister Flanagan addresses Seanad27 November 2014
There is now a new opportunity for the EU to appraise its Middle East strategy, the Minister for Foreign and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, told Senators this afternoon during a debate on the Middle East and Ukraine.
The Minister began by condemning the use of force by Israeli authorities when policing demonstrations and the recent mostly random and deadly attacks on Israelis in the Jerusalem area.
Updating the Seanad on recent developments, including Ireland’s drive to bring about greater EU engagement, Minister Flanagan stated:
“Ireland has concentrated on pressing within the EU for a serious reappraisal of overall Middle East strategy, and in particular for stronger action against the policies on the ground which are making a two state solution harder and harder to achieve, principally those related to settlements.
“This is and will be a difficult discussion, and one on which member States by no means agree, but we are working to push it forward. Already we have seen how effective was the collective EU decision in 2013 that EU funding and research grants may not be spent in settlements.
Condemning again the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, Minister Flanagan said that if no agreement were reached at EU level, Ireland would look again at national guidelines on settlement goods.
He also set out Ireland’s position on recognising a Palestinian state:
“As I made clear to the Foreign Affairs Committee recently, I have an open mind on this. I am very conscious of the lack of political movement and the worsening situation on the ground, and I am not excluding any approach – including an early recognition of Palestine - that might help move things forward and advance what has always been our goal of a negotiated two-state solution.”
Addressing the conflict in Ukraine, Minister Flanagan said:
“The Russian Federation should use its undoubted influence over the separatists to encourage them to end the violence and fully embrace the Minsk process. However, there appears little sign so far of a willingness to play such a role.
“I urge the Russian Federation to take all necessary actions to prevent any further movement of convoys from its territory and to immediately withdraw any troops, weapons and equipment under its control.”
Speaking about sanctions against Russia, Minister Flanagan said:
“I believe that the imposition of economic sanctions against Russia was necessary. The sanctions send a strong signal that the EU is ready to take determined action when required. The measures in question can be intensified or lessened according to how developments unfold”