Foreign Affairs Council took place on May 23, 2016. Ministers discussed the EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da’esh threat and the external aspects of migration and EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia.
“Our determination to end the suffering of the people of Syria and Iraq is stronger than ever. We decided to increase our political engagement to facilitate the start of the transition in Syria and renewed our support to the stabilisation of Iraq.”, said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The Council adopted conclusions on the EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da’esh threat, outlining its priorities in working to achieve lasting peace, stability, security in Syria, Iraq and the wider region.
The EU actively supports a process leading to a credible and inclusive political transition in Syria, within the International Syria Support Group and in support of the UN Special Envoy de Mistura. It will also provide further humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population. Ministers highlighted in particular their support to the Iraqi government and the need to speed up reforms in the country. Ministers noted the importance of stabilising the areas liberated from Da’esh.
The EU will also increase its counter-terrorism action, strengthening its cooperation with third countries, its work on counter-radicalisation and efforts to stop terrorist financing.
Ministers had a discussion on the external aspects of migration. They took stock of the implementation of the Valletta action plan. They notably reviewed the state of play of high-level dialogues with partner countries and the ongoing work with countries in Sahel and in the Horn of Africa. They also touched upon the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement from March 2016, and stressed their commitment in tackling the migration challenge in a collective way.
EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia
The Council also adopted conclusions on EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, the EU naval operation to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The Council agreed to extend the mandate of the operation by one year and add two supporting tasks: training of the Libyan coastguards and navy and contributing to the implementation of the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.
Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting
Before the Council, EU Foreign Affairs ministers met their counterparts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine for the 7th annual Eastern Partnership (EaP) ministerial meeting. Ministers discussed the progress made in the implementation of the cooperation agenda, as well as the progress in reforms, and noted the contribution of the EaP to stability in the region. The High Representative concluded the meeting commending the unity of all ministers and their collective commitment to the partnership.