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Flanagan and EU Foreign Ministers discuss Migration Crisis, Ukraine, Russia and the Middle East

Diplomatic Relations, European Union, Ireland, Minister Charles Flanagan, Security, Press Releases, Middle East and North Africa, Europe, Ireland, 2015

 

The September informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers has concluded in Luxembourg after two-days of discussions. Ireland was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D.

At the conclusion of the meeting, he stated:

“This ‘Gymnich’ meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, hosted by the Luxembourg Presidency, provided Ministers with an important opportunity to hold informal discussions on the serious challenges for EU foreign policy. At the end of the traditional political recess period, we had an opportunity to take stock and plan for the months ahead.”

“HRVP Mogherini’s ambitious agenda dealt with the migration crisis, the Ukraine, Russia and the Middle East.”

“My colleagues and I share deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of the migration crisis. Indeed, it is the most serious foreign policy challenge the EU at this moment. It is a multifaceted challenge and requires a comprehensive approach with a range of measures. First and foremost, that challenge is to save lives. In this regard, we assessed the search and rescue operations that are ongoing in the Mediterranean. Ireland’s ships have been working in partnership with other States and have saved over 6,000 lives to date. I briefed colleagues on the funding we are providing to NGOs and UN agencies to save lives and provide shelter and food – to date Ireland has provided €41 million to assist those displaced as a result of the Syrian conflict."

“We supported the proposed move to Stage 2, phase 1 of EUNAVFOR MED – a naval mission in the Mediterranean which targets organised criminals who are preying on vulnerable migrants by extorting large sums of money from desperate people before putting them to sea in ships that are little more than death traps. The EU has been gathering intelligence on these operations and we are now ready to move to the next phase."

“It is not just about dealing with the consequences when people flee their homes – it is our responsibility to also seek to address the root causes of this surge in migration and to support the peace efforts underway in war-torn countries.”

“There is an important Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting scheduled for 14 September which will address the EU’s approach to the migrants that reach our shores and I will be briefing Minister Fitzgerald on the discussions at Gymnich in advance of that meeting.”

EU Foreign Ministers also met informally with the Foreign Ministers of EU Candidate Countries for a discussion on the migration crisis.

After recent violence in the country, Ukraine was also discussed. Minister Flanagan stated:

“My contribution to the discussion on Ukraine was informed by my recent visit to Kiev. The situation in eastern Ukraine is clearly still very fragile. The improvement in the security situation we have seen there since the 1 September ceasefire is, of course, a welcome development. A full ceasefire is an essential element for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and it is imperative that it is now maintained.”

The Middle East Peace Process was also discussed. Minister Flanagan stated:

“Although there are many crises vying for attention at the moment, I have argued consistently that the EU needs to retain a focus on the Middle East Peace Process, and not lose sight of this critical issue. I welcome the engagement of the High Representative in this regard, and I was glad to have this early opportunity after the summer to discuss where we are. I am sure that the Council will be revisiting the issue again soon in its formal meetings. Though he is in the early stages of his tenure, the post of EU Special Representative on the Middle East Peace Process is also an important vehicle for EU engagement on this difficult and complex issue.”

ENDS

Press Office

5 September 2015