10/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/19/2021 02:30
"The Eastern Partnership which also concerns Slovakia's immediate neighborhood, is one of the priorities in our foreign policy relations. That is why we are in favor of concrete EU support for the countries of this partnership. However, given the changed geopolitical situation in the region, this can no longer be just about structural reforms or building and strengthening the pillars of democracy and the rule of law. It must also be about strengthening the security dimension of the EU's cooperation with its partners in the Eastern Neighborhood within the context of increasing their ability to defend themselves actively ."
This was announced by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus, on Monday, 18 October 2021 in Luxembourg, during a meeting of the Heads of diplomatic services of the European Union (EU) member states in the format of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), at which he represented Slovakia. The Ministers discussed the Eastern Partnership, the situation in Ethiopia and Nicaragua, as well as the EU's relations with the Gulf countries.
As for the future of the Eastern Partnership countries, which is also particularly strategically important from Slovakia's point of view, the basic goals remain their early political association with EU countries, including economic integration, which will enable the interconnection of our markets and a new stage of mutually beneficial cooperation.
"In our opinion, the priorities of the Eastern Partnership should also, as soon as possible, reflect the interests of our partners and their European aspirations in the process of moving closer to the Union. These are, in particular, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The forthcoming EU ministerial meeting with Eastern partners and the summit in December must therefore bring specific promises to enhance further cooperation with clear prospects of the European future of our partners," said the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus.
In relation to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the ministers say it is important to continue cooperation that meets their needs as well as the EU's interests. Given developments in Belarus, the EU will continue to support civil society. Following the imposition of sanctions on the Belarusian regime in June of this year, Minsk suspended its participation in the Eastern Partnership, which EU representatives took note of with regret.
During a discussion on the development of the EU's dialogue with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the ministers expressed their hope that relations would be restarted after several years of stagnation.
"The states of the Arabian Peninsula play important mediation roles in several conflicts in the Middle East, but also in Afghanistan. They are also important players in energy, trade and the provision of development aid. I am therefore pleased that the Gulf countries have settled the disagreements that had hampered our cooperation with this regional association and I also believe that we will soon be able to start a new phase of relations as we have more and more common issues, including security," stressed the State Secretary.
The worsening humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia where armed conflict has been raging for almost a year was an important topic of discussion. Millions have had to leave their homes and need food aid, with almost a million facing famine. At the same time, serious human rights violations and violence against the civilian population has been taking place in the country.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to the events in Ethiopia and we must act. Slovakia fully supports the EU's efforts aimed at ensuring the immediate access of the country's population to humanitarian aid, and at ending violence," said Martin Klus, State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry of the Slovak Republic.
With regard to the developments in Nicaragua as they pertain to the forthcoming elections, the partners pointed to the deteriorating domestic political situation and the continuing repression of the government regime against political opponents, journalists, students and civil society. The EU Council is therefore sending a clear signal that actions of the current government in Nicaragua are unacceptable.
"The search for a peaceful and democratic way out of this political, economic and social crisis is only possible through an inclusive dialogue between political actors and civil society," added Martin Klus.
An informal meeting with the Libyan Foreign Minister Najla El-Mangoush took place on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting in Luxembourg. EU diplomats, together with their Libyan partner, have agreed that the Union's relations with Libya cannot be limited to the issue of migration, and it is in our common interest to focus more on building stability, prosperity and sustainable development in North Africa and the region of Sahel.