The Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian border and in Crimea is very concerning. The risk of further escalation is evident. We commended Ukraine for its restrained response and urged Russia to de-escalate and defuse tensions.
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
EU ministers of foreign affairs exchanged views on Ukraine and were joined via video conference by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba.
Ministers reiterated their strong support to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, including to the non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea and the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. They also welcomed increased diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity.
Concerning domestic reforms, ministers welcomed Ukraine's substantial progress and ambition to approximate its policies with the European Green Deal. They also stressed the need for improvement in the area of the rule of law and the judiciary.
EU foreign ministers discussed the situation in the Tigray region, where fighting is ongoing, full humanitarian access is still being prevented, and human rights violations continue. They were briefed by Finland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Haavisto, who travelled to the region a second time, as representative of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to assess the situation.
The discussion underlined the urgent need for a monitored ceasefire to improve security conditions in Tigray, and to investigate allegations of human right abuses, war crimes and gender based violence. The High Representative encouraged the deployment of joint investigations between the Ethiopian Human Right Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
Ministers also stressed that the Ethiopian government must show commitment to the organisation of a national dialogue in the run-up to the elections.
EU foreign ministers were informed about the deteriorating situation of Alexei Navalny in Russia, and restated the message set out in the EU declaration of 18 April, namely that the Russian authorities must grant him immediate access to medical professionals he trusts.
The Czech minister then briefed his colleagues about the recent expulsion of Russian diplomats linked to the explosion of an ammunition depot in 2014.
The High Representative also updated ministers on the ongoing talks in Vienna, which are aimed at reviving the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, and facilitating the return of the US to the agreement.
Finally ministers were informed that a new proposal on Georgia had been table under the authority of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to try to find a way out of the current political crisis.
The Council adopted new sanctions on Myanmar by written procedure.
It also approved by written procedure conclusions on:
-19 April 2021