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At FAC meeting, ForMin Aurescu underscores need for strategic vision on Eastern Partnership

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Romania's Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Monday attended a videoconference of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), underscoring the need for a strategic vision on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and an ambitious post-2020 agenda.

According to a press statement released by Romania's Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE), the meeting focused on the situation in Georgia, Belarus, the Navalny case, EU-India relations, the situation in Myanmar, the latest developments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear file, the situation in Mozambique and the post-Cotonou Agreement.

At the same time, the actual thematic agenda of the meeting included discussions on developments in Ethiopia and the situation in Ukraine. The ministers also had an informal exchange of views with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The officials also welcomed the adoption of conclusions on the Southern Neighbourhood, the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and the EU Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.

Regarding Georgia, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell presented the latest developments in EU mediation efforts between political actors and called for reflection on future steps.

"Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu welcomed the joint EU-US statement of April 18, 2021 on support for the proposal made the same day by European Council President Charles Michel to facilitate an agreement between the Georgian political actors involved. He voiced hope that, based on the said proposal, the best political solution to the crisis will be reached that avoids any possible impact on the European course, and stressed the vital importance of the European Union's support for further supporting Georgia's European goals, including in the wider context of the challenges facing the states in the Eastern Neighbourhood," according to MAE.

Regarding Belarus, Aurescu mentioned the need to "adopt new sanctions, given a continuous degradation of the internal situation and continuous violations of human rights." He pointed out to the importance of stepping up the publication by the European Commission of its economic plan for a democratic Belarus, an idea supported since September 2020 in a joint letter signed by the presidents of Romania, Lithuania and Poland.

Regarding the case of Alexei Navalny, Aurescu voiced concern over the worsening health of the Russian dissident and support for a proposal to get the Red Cross involved in this case. In addition, in the context of Russia's ongoing destabilising actions on the Eastern Neighborhood countries and also on EU member states, Aurescu reiterated the importance of an EU strategic approach of its relations with Russia.

During the discussions on the latest developments in the preparations for an EU-India summit to be held in Porto, Portugal, on May 8, 2021, the Romanian chief diplomat put forth an ambitious and comprehensive agenda.

"He underlined that the partnership with India on connectivity and agreements on climate change and investment has the potential to materialise in concrete benefits for both parties. At the same time, the Romanian official appreciated that deepening the EU-India relationships has the vocation to contribute to an enhanced European commitment in the Indo-Pacific region and welcomed the adoption of the European Council conclusions on an EU strategy for co-operation with this region in many areas, such as connectivity, cyber security, maritime co-operation and healthcare. The Romanian minister also highlighted the interest of Romania in taking a more active profile in the Indo-Pacific region and in contributing to the implementation of the future strategy," according to MAE.

The meeting's debate on Ukraine took place after a visit by President of the European Council Charles Michel to Kiev on March 3 and a meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council on February 11.

"Minister Bogdan Aurescu reiterated support for Ukraine's European course and deepening the political association process under an agreement signed by the EU and Ukraine in 2014, and economic integration under a 2016 Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). He emphasised the importance of the EU's constant and sustained support for Ukraine's continued efforts to carry out reforms as an essential condition for strengthening the rule of law, democracy and resilience of the country," the release reads.

Aurescu also expressed concern over the deployment of Russian troops and military equipment to Crimea and Ukraine's eastern border, reiterating Romania's key position on "upholding Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

"The head of Romanian diplomacy underscored the need for a strategic vision on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and an ambitious post-2020 agenda, including strengthening security co-operation with partner states. He mentioned that Romania supports a more active role for the EU in addressing prolonged conflicts in the Black Sea region. Discussions on the subject will take place at an informal Gymnich meeting in May 2021," according to MAE.

During the informal exchange of views with the head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign ministers discussed recent political and security developments in Ukraine and the region.

Aurescu extolled Ukraine for its progress with implementing reforms and underscored the need for Ukraine to continue its efforts to the benefit of all citizens of the country, especially in the fight against corruption, and justice reform.

Aurescu joined the other European foreign ministers in voicing concern over repeated violations of the ceasefire agreement and the intensification of the mobilisation of Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine and illegally-annexed Crimea, and over Russia's intention to close navigation on certain sectors of the Black Sea. He also expressed support for an ambitious agenda of the Eastern Partnership summit scheduled for the second half of 2021 that will send a strong political message of support to EU's partners.

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