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Minister Flanagan attending EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss Iran, Russia, Libya & Middle East

European Union, Minister Charles Flanagan, Press Releases, Ireland, Middle East and North Africa, Europe, 2016

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Charlie Flanagan TD, is in Brussels today (Monday) to attend a meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers. Iran, Russia, Libya and the Middle East Peace Process are on the agenda for the meeting.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

“As we approach the second anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea, Ireland remains firmly committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and strong in our condemnation of Russia’s actions. While we would like to see strong relations between the EU and all of its neighbours, we must remain frank and honest about Russia’s ongoing actions in Ukraine.

“At the Foreign Affairs Council I will stress that Russia must respect the important role played by civil society and ensure that civil and political liberties are protected. The case of Nadiya Savchenko is urgent and I call for her immediate release.”

Foreign Ministers will meet with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Martin Kobler, to discuss the current situation in Libya. Minister Flanagan said:

“The conflict and instability in the Middle East, including in Libya, are the root causes of violent extremism and mass migration which are two of the most serious challenges facing the EU at the moment. It is clear that an effectively governed Libya would contribute significantly to addressing the growing spread of terrorist groups in the region, including ISIS. I call on all parties in Libya to reach a settlement and begin the crucial process of re-building. I look forward to discussing with the UN Special Representative Martin Kobler how the EU can assist with the process of government formation in Libya, which is so urgently needed.”

The Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) is also on the Council agenda. Minister Flanagan said:

“On the Middle East Peace Process, France will introduce partners to its proposal for an international conference on the MEPP, to be prepared in stages, with a view to restarting a meaningful negotiation. Many questions remain to be fleshed out, but Ireland has long drawn attention to the need to address the dangerous vacuum in the peace process, and we welcome this initiative by France to inject a fresh dynamic.”

The Council will also discuss how to further EU engagement with Iran following the lifting of nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions. Minister Flanagan said:

“As the EU Foreign Affairs Council has made clear, there is an expectation that the agreement and implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will open the door to a steady improvement in relations between the European Union, its Member States and Iran, as well as improved Iranian regional and international relations. I fully support the High Representative's efforts to explore the areas where the EU and Iran could cooperate to mutual benefit, and to raise issues of concern. I have serious concerns about human rights in Iran, including the very high number of executions, especially of juvenile offenders. Engaging Iran on human rights must be a core component of this relationship”.