Maltese Presidency welcomes focus on Mediterranean at meeting of EU Foreign Ministers

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The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU welcomes the fact that the Mediterranean region was the focus of today’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. The meeting was dedicated to two important regional issues; namely the developments in Syria and the Middle East Peace Process.

Speaking prior to the meeting, the Maltese Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Vella, stated: “This is the beginning of a Mediterranean Presidency and [today we] will be dealing with topics which are purely Mediterranean.”

During the discussion on Syria, Ministers expressed the full support of the EU for a political transition in Syria, as well as the need for the Union to occupy a role in such a process. Ministers also underlined the importance that such processes need to be under the auspices of the United Nations, while emphasising the importance of ensuring full access to humanitarian assistance to those in need and the safeguarding of civilians and their dignity.

Ministers discussed the Middle East Peace Process during a working lunch, notably in light of recent developments, which include the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) and yesterday’s (15 January 2017) Paris Conference. Ministers discussed forward-looking approaches to achieve a comprehensive peace deal, preserve the viability of the two-state solution and reverse ongoing negative trends on the ground.

Earlier in the day, Minister Vella, highlighted the importance of the two-state solution, saying that it is “the only viable solution for the situation,” and welcomed the focus on this issue at today’s meeting. This commitment to the two-state solution, as highlighted at the Paris Conference as well, was fully subscribed to by all ministers.

During the meeting, Ministers adopted Council Conclusions reaffirming the EU’s support for the democratic process in Lebanon and welcoming the recent election of President Michel Aoun and the formation of a new government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Photo. George Vella and Slovak Minister Miroslav Lajcak

Minister George Vella arriving for Foreign Ministers meeting.