Following an informal breakfast meeting with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian pro-democratic forces, the Council exchanged views on Belarus, and adopted sanctions against those responsible for the escalation of serious human rights violations in Belarus and the violent repression of civil society, democratic opposition and journalists, as well as those behind the forced and unlawful landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021.
We have adopted today with respect to Belarus the largest package of sanctions, listing 86 individuals and entities. These measures were coordinated also with Canada, the UK and the US. […] The European Union remains ready to support a future democratic Belarus with a comprehensive plan of economic support of up to €3 billion, and continues to put pressure on the Lukashenko regime through the sanctions on individuals and entities adopted today and economic sanctions to be decided soon.
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Ministers also endorsed options for targeted economic sanctions with the aim to have them adopted swiftly, following guidance from the European Council later this week.
The Council reiterated its message to the Belarusian regime that it should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and those detained for peacefully demanding respect for their fundamental freedoms, stop further repression, hold those responsible to account, and initiate a genuine and inclusive national dialogue with broader society.
Foreign affairs ministers discuss Belarus, EU-Iraq relations and the covid situation in Latin America
Foreign affairs ministers took stock of the latest developments in Iraq, notably Iraq's upcoming elections, security related issues, regional stability and bilateral engagement.
Iraq is undertaking comprehensive reforms, but the economic and the security situation remains critical. In order to lend support to the country in its reform path, the Council decided to hold the Cooperation Council on the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement at ministerial level before the end of 2021.
The Council also decided to deploy an EU election observation mission for the upcoming Iraqi elections scheduled on 10 October 2021, following an invitation by the Iraqi government.
Ministers had an opportunity to exchange views directly with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, over an informal working lunch during which he briefed EU ministers on the latest domestic developments.
Latin America and the Caribbean
The Council exchanged views on Latin America and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on political and economic developments, as well as on the dramatic socioeconomic consequences of the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
Latin America remains one of the regions of the world closer to the EU in values and support for a multilateral rules based order. The EU is also the most important investor and among the first trade partners of the region.
The Council expressed its willingness to work together to ensure a strong support to the region to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, through a Team Europe approach, including through increased access to vaccines and vaccine donations. Ministers also stressed the need to boost the regional financial resilience by enhancing trade relations with the most important countries and partners, e.g. Mexico, Chile and Mercosur.
Finally, the Council discussed regional hotspots, where support to political dialogue is required. An election exploratory mission will be sent to Venezuela to consider whether or not the conditions allow for an observation mission in November.
The High Representative debriefed ministers on his recent visit to Lebanon, during which he conveyed the EU's message of solidarity to the Lebanese people, and the EU's call on Lebanese political leaders to take responsibility for the creation of a new reform-oriented government.
Ministers briefly touched on Turkey ahead of the European Council, and against the background of the High Representative's recent meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
EU foreign ministers were informed about the outcome of the high-level meeting of the Belgrade - Pristina Dialogue that took place on 15 June 2021. During the meeting, the first high-level one in nine months, the parties confirmed their commitment to the comprehensive normalisation of relations and agreed to continue the dialogue process in July.
The Council had a short exchange of views on the Middle East Peace Process. In this context the High Representative informed ministers about his recent contacts with the new Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Yair Lapid.
The Council then discussed the dramatic situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, where a full-blown humanitarian crisis is currently pushing an estimated of 400,000 people to the brink of man-made famine and loss of life. An exchange of views on Ethiopia will feature as full discussion item on the agenda of the July Foreign Affairs Council.
The High Representative presented the Joint Communication on EU-Russia relations to the Council, with a view to a strategic discussion of the European Council later this week.
Finally, ministers briefly touched on the results of the Iranian presidential elections, as well as on the state of play of the ongoing negotiations in Vienna, aimed at reviving the JCPOA.
The Council adopted conclusions on role of cultural heritage in promoting peace, democracy and sustainable development, and the third round of EU sanctions over the military coup and subsequent repression in Myanmar/Burma.
-21 June 2021