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The next European Council will hold a strategic debate on European Union-Russia relations

12/05/2021 - 16:26
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On 10 May 2021, the Foreign Affairs Council held a strategic discussion on the Western Balkans and the elements of reinforced EU engagement in the region.


EU Ministers reaffirmed the European perspective of the whole region, underlining the importance of a political engagement in a wide range of areas such as the fight against the COVID pandemic, economic cooperation, connectivity, tackling external influence and disinformation.

The Council also discussed priorities for the engagement with the US administration in the coming months.

Ministers took stock of the progress made together on some important issues, such as reengaging the US on the JCPOA, relaunching the dialogue on China, suspending temporarily tariffs under the Airbus/Boeing dispute or liaising on responses to developments in Russia and Myanmar.

Moreover, Ministers exchanged views with US Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, who joined via videoconference, on how to increase global climate ambition, especially amongst the world’s biggest economies.

Under current affairs, discussions also touched, among other issues, on Russia, following the unlawful and politically motivated imposition of restrictive measures against eight EU nationals, including the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and Commissioner Věra Jourová. In addition, Ministers addressed Alexei Navalny’s situation in the penal colony, as well as the effective banning of his anti-corruption organisation and its political networks.

Speaking at the press conference following the meeting, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stressed: “We once again expressed our solidarity with the Czech Republic and Bulgaria in light of the recent events related to Russia. I have to repeat again that the pattern of negative actions by the Russian Government continues and it feeds the dynamic of escalation. Todays exchange will feed into the European Council discussion on European Union-Russia relations on the next 25th May.”

When answering the question on a possible expulsion of additional Russian diplomats, EU High Representative Borrell explained: “Today, as well as the leaders did during the past weekend [at the informal meeting of the European Council on 7-8 May], we reassured Czechia of the strong support of the European Union. But at the same time I think everybody agrees on the need of not continuing the escalation. That we need to look for a strong support but at the same time to try not to increase the tensions. I know that the European Council will discuss about Russia on 25 May, and maybe after this discussion the High Representative and the Commission could be charged with presenting an analysis of the situation of the relationship with Russia as we did with respect to Turkey. Let us wait what the leaders discuss on 25 May. For the time being it is not in the agenda to continue the escalation of the expulsions of diplomats.”

More information

Foreign Affairs Council, 10 May 2021 – main results

Foreign Affairs Council: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell

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