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Minister Flanagan meets with EU Foreign Ministers

Minister Charles Flanagan, Press Releases, Europe, 2016

Minister Flanagan meets with EU Foreign Ministers to discuss Syria, Iraq and Ukraine
- Ministers adopt Conclusions on Libya and the Middle East Peace Process

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD today (Monday) attended a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels, where Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and the Middle East Peace Process were discussed. The meeting was the first gathering of the Foreign Affairs Council in 2016.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

“Today, Foreign Ministers underlined that the EU remains fully committed to supporting and assisting Ukraine as it continues to implement urgent reform in trying conditions. It is of vital importance that this positive momentum is maintained and indeed accelerated in 2016. I reiterated Ireland's support for Ukraine's reform process directly to Minister Klimkin this morning at a breakfast meeting in advance of the Foreign Affairs Council.

"Ireland and our EU partners will continue to do everything possible to ensure the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Their implementation provides a strong framework for the achievement of a lasting and peaceful resolution to the current conflict.”

At their meeting, Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in Iraq, Syria and the wider region, and met with the Foreign Minister of Jordan to exchange views on how the EU and Jordan can work together to improve peace and security in the Middle East. Minister Flanagan stated:

“Foreign Ministers discussed the EU’s support for the planned Syrian negotiations, and in particular how the EU can give practical support to the UN’s efforts. I welcome the positive steps taken by opposition representatives to set out a political agenda for the negotiations. The EU should make clear its strong support for opposition engagement in negotiations, and reiterate its support for a political transition in Syria as the critical element in any agreement to end the conflict, and the suffering of the Syrian people.

"The tensions of recent weeks between Iran and its Gulf neighbours are a major concern. The Middle East region is facing multiple challenges, and these tensions threaten to deepen the existing crises. I call on all concerned States to take action to defuse these tensions and to work for regional stability, in particular by pursuing political solutions in Syria and Yemen and by renewing diplomatic relations. For me, the priority must to be ensure that these tensions, between two regional powers, do not derail the already fragile efforts towards peace in Syria."

Ministers adopted conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process reaffirming the EU's commitment to a two-state solution and their strong opposition to any actions that undermine its viability. Minister Flanagan stated:

"The recent welcome progress with Iran shows that, working with partners, the EU has the capacity to play a constructive role in resolving seemingly intractable difficulties through diplomacy and dialogue. I, along with fellow Ministers, expressed a strong wish to see the EU play a more active role in the Middle East Peace Process. I welcome today's Conclusions."

ENDS
Press Office
18 January 2016

Notes to Editors
• Council conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process are available on the European External Action Service website here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/01/18-fac-conclusions-mepp/ 
• Council conclusions on Libya are available on the European External Action Service website here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/01/18-fac-conclusions-libya/