21 September 2020
-15:00 Press conference
The Council had an exchange of views on Belarus, during which it reiterated that the EU does not recognise the outcome of the August elections in Belarus, as they were neither free nor fair.
Ministers noted the determination and perseverance of the people of Belarus in spite of repression, and expressed strong solidarity with them in their democratic aspirations and call for new, free and fair elections under the OSCE supervision.
We stand firm in our support for a free and democratic choice by Belarusian people of their leader and their country’s future. We do not have a hidden agenda, we do not seek to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. We only ask for a national dialogue on how to resolve the current crisis and for free and fair elections.
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Ministers firmly supported the sovereignty and independence of Belarus and called on all international partners not to interfere in its internal affairs.
The issue of sanctions was also discussed and ministers restated the political will to adopt new restrictive measures as soon as possible.
Finally the Council also reviewed the overall relations that the EU has with Belarus and, in this context, it discussed further financial support that could be given to civil society and independent media.
The Council then discussed the latest developments in Libya following the announcements made on 21 August 2020 by the President of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-Serraj, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, on the way forward out of the Libyan crisis.
Ministers identified as main priorities: the reaching of a permanent and sustainable ceasefire-agreement in the framework of the UN-led process, the lifting of the oil blockade across Libya, and the resumption of the political dialogue.
Ministers also had an opportunity to touch on the results of the recently launched Operation Irini in the implementation of the UN arms embargo.
Furthermore the Council adopted new sanctions targeting 2 people and 3 entities undermining the peace and security of Libya, violating the arms embargo or committing human rights abuses.
European Union-African Union
The Council then exchanged views on the EU relations with its African Union counterparts, and ways to step up relations with Africa in the medium and long term both from a political and an economic point of view.
Ministers agreed to develop joint strategic priorities in order to pave the way for cooperation in the next decade, and to focus on tangible results, in the spirit of the "Team Europe" approach.
In this context the Council was also updated on the state of play of the post-Cotonou negotiations.
Under current affairs, ministers had the opportunity to be briefed on Venezuela and the results of the latest meeting of the International Contact Group. Ministers agreed that the international community needed to mobilise all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and democratic solution to the ongoing crisis, and to address the urgent needs of the population.
Concerning Russia the High Representative touched on the poisoning of Mr Navalny and the need to have an urgent international investigation in full transparency and cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Ministers acknowledged the difficult situation in Lebanon and stressed their solidarity with the people, highlighting the need for a speedy formation a new government.
On China, ministers were briefed by the High Representative on the EU-China Leaders’ videoconference of 14 September, with a focus on the state of play in negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investments and the situation on human rights.
Finally on Turkey, ministers briefly touched on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean ahead of the forthcoming European Council. While they acknowledged some recent positive steps, they called on Turkey to take further steps to de-escalate.
-21 September 2020