Developments in Syria, Lebanon and Mali, as well as the Serbia-Kosovo accord, will be topics of discussion by the European Union’s foreign ministers, with Deputy Minister Marta Dassù representing Italy, meeting today in Luxembourg. It is expected that last Thursday’s decision in Brussels to lift the embargo on oil sales by the Syrian opposition will receive the go ahead. Other items will include energy, the Mediterranean and the Eastern Partnership, as well as the lifting of sanctions against Myanmar following that country’s recent democratic gestures.
EU-Italy for southern gas corridor
The first item on the agenda will be the EU’s external relations in the energy sector and related geopolitical aspects. Italy will encourage the creation of a southern gas corridor, with the aim of diversifying supply sources and routes, making the most of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), considered as being of strategic interest for the country and on which an intergovernmental agreement was signed in February 2013 with Greece and Albania.
Lebanon: support for a national unity government
The ministers will also be discussing the crisis in Mali; Italy will echo the appeal by Ban Ki-moon, and is in favour of the transformation of the current AFISMA mission into a UN stabilisation mission. Discussions will also include Lebanon, with Italy promoting the process launched by President Sleiman for the creation of a national unity government that maintains a policy of neutrality and dissociation from the Syrian crisis, while at the same time stressing the urgency of Brussels’ renewed commitment to humanitarian assistance, especially in light of Lebanon’s vulnerability.
Myanmar: lifting sanctions except arms embargo
Also on the agenda of the 27 ministers is the revocation of the sanctions against Myanmar. According to Dassù, the decision to lift the sanctions on that country, except for the arms embargo, “is the right response to the progress made by that country”. Italy has been constant in its assurance of support for the transition under way ever since Burmese President Thein Sein’s visit to Rome on 6 March last.
Strengthened EU-Ukraine relations
The ministers will also address the Eastern Partnership. Italy will favour strengthening EU relations with Ukraine, encouraging deeper political ties and greater economic integration. EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherin Ashton is to report specifically on North Korea, the Balkans – particularly the Belgrade-Pristina accord, Egypt and the Iranian nuclear programme.