The Council discussed Iran focusing on the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). The ministers also discussed the situation in Western Balkans, Venezuela and the dangerous increase of tensions in Ukraine.
The Council discussed Iran. Ministers focused on the implementation of the JCPoA, the Iran nuclear deal, including ongoing EU efforts to preserve effective financial channels to Iran and to pursue legitimate trade relations against the background of the re-imposition of US sanctions on 5 November 2018. They also discussed concerns over recent behaviour by Iranian actors on European soil, Iran’s ballistic missiles programme and other regional security aspects.
“There was a consensus among the member states on the need to keep our overall policy with Iran, starting from the strong interest we all have in keeping in place the JCPoA. The EU’s full support for the implementation of the JCPoA does not mean we turn a blind eye on other issues”, said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Foreign ministers discussed the Western Balkans. Following a year of very intensive relations between the EU and the Western Balkans, ministers had an opportunity to take stock of the EU’s engagement and cooperation with the region. They reaffirmed the EU’s unequivocal commitment to the European perspective of the Western Balkans. They also recalled their expectations for the next steps in the region’s progress on its European path, in particular on rule of law and fight against corruption.
Ministers discussed the latest developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, following-up on their exchanges at the previous Foreign Affairs Council, and recalled the need to form governments on all levels and to engage in making progress on the reform agenda. They also highlighted the importance of supporting efforts to implement the Prespa agreement between Skopje and Athens. Ministers expressed their support for the EU’s strong focus on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. In this context, they also voiced their concerns over the Kosovo government decision to increase the tariffs tax on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzgovina to 100%, in clear violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.
The Council discussed the latest developments in Ukraine. Foreign ministers recalled their utmost concern about the dangerous increase of tensions in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. They also reaffirmed that the EU does not recognise the “elections” of 11 November 2018 that it considers as illegal and illegitimate. The Council added nine persons involved in those so-called “elections” to the list of those subject to restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine
Over lunch, the High Representative and foreign ministers exchanged views with Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin. They focused on the latest developments in the Azov Sea and the security situation in Ukraine, as well as on possible EU support to assist the affected regions in south-east Ukraine.