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EU: Gentiloni in Riga for the Gymnich summit. Focus on situation in Libya, Ukraine and EU-Russia relations

7 March – Latvian MFA press release on Gymnich

(original language)

‘EU Foreign Ministers in Riga demonstrate unequivocal unity’

On 6-7 March, Riga hosted the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers with participation of  Foreign Ministers from candidate countries and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The ministers discussed the developments in Libya and Ukraine and the EU’s relations with southern and eastern neighbours,  relations with Russia, and preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga.

Taking into account the terrorist attack in Bamako, the capital of Mali, that claimed the lives of five people, including EU nationals, one of whom was a Security Officer of the EU’s Delegation to Mali, the EU High Representative and EU Foreign Ministers conveyed condolences to the families and friends of the victims and condemned such actions. The Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, emphasised that the EU should continue its efforts in support of stability in Mali..

The Ministers devoted special attention to the developments in Ukraine and the relations between the EU and Russia. As Foreign Minister of the country presiding over the Council of the EU, Edgars Rinkēvičs emphasised the importance of the European Union standing united on these matters today and in times ahead.

The Latvian Foreign Minister confirmed the necessity for immediate implementation of the Minsk Agreement and the understanding among EU member states that OSCE capacity must be strengthened in monitoring of the Minsk Agreement. At the same time, the EU was ready to tighten sanctions against Russia, should the situation in the east Ukraine deteriorate. The Minister and the EU High Representative acknowledged that the situation has considerably improved since 12 February – with the withdrawal of heavy weapons a decrease in the intensity of shelling; however, the EU is also aware that the ceasefire in Ukraine is still fragile.

The EU expressed preparedness to continue supporting Ukraine not only in financial terms but also with coordinated assistance in the implementation of reforms.

The meeting also addressed developments in Europe’s southern neighbourhood, especially in Libya. Minister Rinkēvičs  pointed out that these are very important security questions that affect all EU member states. He also expressed satisfaction over a common understanding among the member states on further steps for support of political processes in Libya. The issue of the EU’s relations with its southern neighbours will be on the agenda of the EU’s meeting in Barcelona on 13 April.

The Latvian Foreign Minister also spoke of balanced support for southern and eastern neighbours. The EU supports an individualised and differentiated approach to cooperation with each of these countries.

Edgars Rinkēvičs added that this Gymnich meeting provided good ideas  and impetus for the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The informal Gymnich meeting is a traditional gathering of the foreign ministers of the European Union, organised by the Presidency. No binding decisions are adopted during Gymnich meetings. They provide an opportunity for ministers to air and discuss issues of current importance in an informal atmosphere.

Press and Information Division – Information and Public Relations Department

6 March –  EU: Gentiloni in Riga for the Gymnich summit. Focus on situation in Libya, Ukraine and EU-Russia relations

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Paolo Gentiloni, is on a mission in Riga to attend the Gymnich, as the traditional informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers is known. The summit in the Lithuanian capital will be chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Libya and Ukraine key topics for discussion

The focus of the “conclave” – which traditionally does not have a set agenda – will be the current situation in Libya and Ukraine, relations between the EU and Russia, and the future of the “Eastern Partnership”.

On Libya, Minister Gentiloni will reiterate that the dimension of the challenge posed by the crisis requires convinced, cohesive and substantial action by the international community. In this scenario, Italy is ready to play its part in supporting Libya’s new institutions, and its people, and is willing to resume cooperation and assistance in sectors such as combating terrorism and extremism, capacity-building in the security field, combating migration and illegal trafficking issues, and the development of civil society. The aim is to encourage the formation of the government of national unity in the shortest timescale possible. Said government must be able to stabilise the country, kick-start the reconstruction and combat the growing infiltration of Da’esh-affiliated terrorist groups.

Strategic Review and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

Sessions at Gymnich will also include a discussion of the Strategic Review, which will play a part in formulating a new foreign and security policy in Europe. Another session of the two-day event will focus on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This will involve separate meetings with the foreign ministers of candidate countries for EU accession, to discuss progress achieved and measures still to be implemented.

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