Minister Flanagan joins EU Foreign Ministers for discussions at FAC6/3/17
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, was in Brussels today (Monday) to participate in EU Foreign Affairs Council. In the margins of the meeting, he held bilateral meetings with his German and Danish counterparts and with the Egyptian Foreign Minister.
Minister Flanagan said:
“My extensive programme of meetings and discussions with my EU Foreign Ministerial colleagues has been ongoing since the referendum in Brexit. I am ensuring that all my colleagues have a clear understanding of the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland and the implications of Brexit for our island. Ministers Gabriel and Samuelsen are relatively recently appointed and I was pleased to have the opportunity today to have discussions with them in regard to Northern Ireland, to the Common Travel area, and to our trade situation. While we all have some common concerns, Ireland is in a unique situation. Both Ministers were understanding of Ireland’s unique challenges and I am pleased that both have accepted my invitation to visit Ireland".
On Friday, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, will visit Ireland at the invitation of Minister Flanagan. The Ministers will undertake engagements in Dublin and visit the border region. Minister Flanagan added:
“As we move closer to the triggering of Article 50, it is more important than ever that the Government maintains engagement with our EU partners, to ensure that our priorities are heard and understood across Europe. My meetings today are a critical part of that process and this strategic outreach will continue later in the week, when I welcome the Luxembourg Foreign Minister to Dublin for discussions which will largely focus on Brexit.”
EU Foreign Ministers had an informal discussion on Egypt with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry today. Following that discussion, Minister Flanagan had a bilateral meeting with Minister Shoukry in respect of Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa, currently on trial on Egypt.
Minister Flanagan said:
"I was pleased to have an opportunity to yet again directly convey to Foreign Minister Shoukry my concerns about Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa. In particular, I emphasised my concern for Ibrahim’s health and welfare during his incarceration and the strong desire of the Irish government and the Irish Parliament to see Ibrahim returned to Ireland. Minister Shoukry once again reiterated the commitment of his government to resolve this case when a verdict is handed down by the court. He further undertook to look into the case up on his return to Egypt.”
Earlier, EU Foreign Ministers discussed the recent dialogue between the EU Special Representative on Human Rights, Mr Lambrinidis, and a variety of senior Egyptian Government members and officials. Welcoming the dialogue, Minister Flanagan said:
“We need to build on this dialogue and be clear on the need to support Egypt’s democratic transition, Egyptian civil society and the human rights of all Egyptians. We also need to strengthen our regional dialogue with Egypt, to address economic interests and focus on the shared threat posed by terrorism."
On the EU Global Strategy, Minister Flanagan said:
“Today we met in joint session with our defence colleagues to discuss progress since the December European Council on implementation of the security and defence elements of the Global Strategy and I was pleased to be joined by Minister Paul Kehoe. In particular, we discussed how to step up the Union’s efforts to counter instability in the European Neighbourhood and beyond. External crises are a source of security threats to Europe and we need to invest more in conflict prevention to address their root causes. The Global Strategy envisages a comprehensive approach using political, diplomatic, economic development cooperation, governance capacity building and peace support instruments in a coherent way. Improving the EU’s capacity, through the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) to contribute to international peace and security, particularly in support of the UN, is an important part of that work”.
Foreign Ministers also discussed the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). Minister Flanagan said:
“On the MEPP we had a general exchange of views on the situation, in particular in the light of a number of developments, including some troubling aspects on the ground – settlement expansion, on which myself and other Ministers, as well as the EU as a whole, have made clear statements; the recent Legalisation Act, and other issues. A united international approach is more important now than ever”.
There was also a brief discussion on Yemen, in light of the dire humanitarian situation, which continues to be of concern to EU Foreign Ministers.
Press Office, 6th March