17/03/2014 - Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)
Council condemns the illegal referendum in Crimea
Meeting in the Foreign Affairs Council, EU ministers strongly condemned the referendum in Crimea and did not recognise its outcome. They also decided to introduce an additional set of measures against 21 officials responsible for actions threatening Ukraine's territorial integrity.
The Council considers the holding of the referendum illegal, and a clear breach of the Ukrainian constitution. Ministers took note of the draft opinion of the Venice Commission stating that the Crimea referendum was held with the visible presence of armed soldiers. The EU does not and cannot recognise the outcome of a referendum organised under such circumstances.
EU foreign affairs ministers also deplored the negative developments they have seen on the ground which are in clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In light of these developments, and in line with the statement by EU heads of state or sovernment on 6 March, the Council adopted restrictive measures against 21 officials, and the persons and entities associated with them for their role in actions threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Travel bans and asset freezes within the EU will enter into force today.
The Council is looking to establish an international presence on the ground and supports the deployment of an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
The council calls for a peaceful and negotiated solution
EU ministers said there is still time to reverse current negative developments. The European Union remains ready to facilitate dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. They called on the Russian authorities to take steps to de-escalate the crisis and warned that heavier economic sanctions would follow in case of further actions by Russia to destabilise the situation in Ukraine.
The Council approved the modalities for signing the political provisions of the Association Agreement on 21 March in Brussels. "This is a strong signal of our political support," the High Representative said.
The Council confirmed the EU's commitment to quickly implement the assistance package to Ukraine.
Press release on the EU adopting restrictive measures against actions threatening Ukraine's territorial integrity
Council conclusions on Ukraine
Other topics on the agenda
The EU High Representative also briefed the ministers about her recent trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina where she discussed how the EU could best support the political, social and economical challenges the country is facing.
Ministers were updated on the Middle East Peace process and the state of the on-going efforts of both parties and of the US for a lasting settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. She confirmed the full support of the EU to the peace talks efforts and the possibility for both parties to benefit of an unprecedented package in case a sustainable peace agreement can be reached.
Ministers discussed and adopted conclusions on:
- the EU strategy on the Gulf of Guinea
- the implementation of the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel
- the West Africa Development Programme
- the on-going crisis in South Sudan
- the Central African Republic
Press release on the Gulf of Guinea
Council conclusions on the implementation of the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel
Council conclusions on the West Africa Development Programme
Council conclusions on South Sudan
Council conclusions on the Central African Republic