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Counter-Terrorism and EU-Russia Relations top agenda at Foreign Affairs Council – Minister Flanagan

 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today (Monday) attended a meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in Brussels where Counter-Terrorism, EU-Russian relations, Libya, and Climate Change were among the matters discussed.

 

Counter-Terrorism

Speaking after the meeting the Minister said:

“Today’s meeting was the first meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers since the brutal murders in France and the violence in Belgium. There was a clear sense of common purpose and Ministers from across the 28 Member States were unanimous in their support for a range of measures to combat terrorism. These include fostering closer cooperation with third countries and organisations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"Our discussion focused on how foreign policy initiatives can complement action being taken by Justice Ministers. At EU level, the need for the European Parliament to expedite approval of the Directive on Passenger Name Records was emphasised by many Ministers. Ireland strongly supports this Directive and I am calling on Irish MEPs to play a positive and active role in advancing this matter.

“Ministers agreed to enhance the EU's activities outside of Europe, including through improving our communication efforts by clearly articulating the EU’s values and countering misinformation and false propaganda. We agreed to place experts in key EU embassies to work on counter terrorism.

“The EU Counter Terrorism and Foreign Fighters Strategy for Syria and Iraq agreed by all Member States, including Ireland, last October was published today. It deals with a broad range of issues including the prevention of violent extremism, strengthening legal provisions, and enhancing aviation security measures.

"In the course of our discussions I highlighted Ireland’s support for a comprehensive, human rights compliant approach to countering terrorism. An effective approach requires actions such as tackling root causes, outreach to vulnerable communities, promoting a counter narrative, while at the same time necessarily strengthening legal and security measures.

“We must combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and promote societal cohesion and unity."

Russia

The Foreign Affairs Council meeting also discussed relations between the EU and Russia. Minister Flanagan stated:

"A notable sense of common purpose and unity were present around the table in discussions today. Our approach is to seek to change behaviour and in particular to secure a stronger commitment from Russia to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. These offer the basis for a sustainable political solution, based on respect for Ukraine's sovereignty and with clear guarantees on border security, disarmament of all illegal groups and the withdrawal of foreign forces. There can be no question of a return to normal business in the absence of a change in Russia's approach to the crisis and sanctions remain a key element of the EU approach to the crisis in Ukraine.

"There was also a wide spread view that there is merit in maintaining cooperation on important global and regional foreign policy issues such as Syria, Libya, Ebola and Iran. Russia is of course a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. I want to emphasise that all of this would be in the perspective of enhancing EU interests and positions. Engagement with Russia is desirable and indeed necessary if progress is to be made in tackling these major challenges.

"The European Council will review these matters in March.”

Libya, Middle East Peace Process, Climate Change

Foreign Ministers also addressed the situation in Libya, met with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Dr Nabil Elaraby, and approved an approach by the EU for diplomatic outreach on Climate Change in advance of the United Nations Climate Conference taking place in Paris, later this year.

 

ENDS

Press Office

19 January 2015