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Today with the Ministers we will host first and foremost a working lunch with all the Ministers who were delegated by the League of Arab States to work on the Middle East Peace Process. All of them will be here - six Foreign Ministers from the region: Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Palestine, and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States [Ahmed Aboul Gheit].
Together with them, we will discuss the common approach we have – European Union and League of Arab States – to try and revive the Middle East Peace Process with the perspective of two states and you will see how important it is to preserve the special status of Jerusalem as the holy city of all the three major monotheistic religions.
We will also have a discussion with the Ministers on Venezuela – critical hours – and also on Moldova – timely discussion.
But the Foreign Affairs Council today will also be the opportunity for us to discuss issues that are not formally on the agenda, and on which I will debrief the Ministers.
First of all, the good, excellent results we have had on Friday with the International High-level Conference on the Sahel where the convening power of the European Union has mobilised more than €400 million for the security of the Sahel, which means also the security of Europe – and for our work to dismantle terrorist organisations and traffickers networks.
But also our work on Syria - we had this on the agenda just a couple of weeks ago in Sofia with the Foreign Ministers, where we – already then – signalled that the situation on the ground was deteriorating, especially from the humanitarian point of view, in a dramatic manner. That discussion led to our work in New York: it is thanks to the EU Member States that are present in the UN Security Council - permanent members and non-permanent members - in these days that we managed to have a UN Security Council Resolution that was approved unanimously.
That is a necessary and encouraging step, but a first step. Now, that Resolution needs to be immediately implemented and we will continue to work in these weeks and these days together with the United Nations and with all our international and regional partners to make sure that the situation on the ground improves immediately.
Tomorrow I will meet, here in Brussels, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations in charge for the Humanitarian aid [and Emergency Relief Coordinator], Mark Lowcock. We will discuss together how to act together – European Union and United Nations – also because, as you know, we have a very important Conference coming up – the Brussels Conference on the future of Syria and the Region, here in a couple of months' time. We will use that moment to convene the international and regional forces to improve the situation on the ground. But this needs to happen immediately.
Q. Are you worried about the Turkish operation in Afrin? Since the beginning of the operation, 180 people died including 30 children.
We have already expressed our concern about this. In general terms I am extremely concerned and the Ministers as well, about the increase of military operations all over Syria from different actors – obviously first and foremost by the regime and its supporters. And there is a special responsibility, especially from the three guarantors of the Astana process – Russia, Iran, and Turkey – to make sure that the process of de-escalation takes place and not the process of escalation.
Q. On the release of two Georgian citizens.
Exactly, we reacted on that yesterday already.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I151620