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Council supports Kiev efforts for a peace plan

Meeting in the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, EU ministers discussed the proposal by Ukraine's President Poroshenko for a peace plan and the violence in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

The Council welcomed President Poroshenko's peace plan and the steps he has taken towards securing peace and stability in Ukraine since taking office.

Ukraine's newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin, attended the Council meeting to explain in detail to his EU counterparts the situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine and the terms of the peace plan.

The ministers welcomed the positive signs of dialogue between the Ukrainian and Russian authorities at higher levels despite the worsening situation on the ground. The Council expects the Russian Federation to support the peace plan with specific de-escalation measures. Words must now be translated into actions.

Russia needs to take steps to stop the flow of weapons over the border into eastern Ukraine, and to use its influence on the separatists to halt the violence and lay down their arms.

Sanctions

The Council assessed the preparatory work done by the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the member states on possible targeted measures, allowing further steps to be taken if required and if the situation on the ground deteriorates further.

Common security and defence policy (CSDP) mission to Ukraine

The Council approved the conceptual framework for a mission under the EU's CSDP to assist Ukraine in reforming its civilian security sector, including the police and the rule of law. The mission, which is to be deployed in the summer, will follow similar lines to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).

Import of goods from Crimea

The Council adopted measures to implement the EU's policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea. Goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol may not be imported into the EU unless they have been granted a certificate of origin by the Ukrainian authorities.

Association Agreement with Ukraine

The Council agreed to sign the Association Agreement (AA) with Ukraine, which includes a Deep And Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), during the European Council on 27 June. It also recalled the Commission's intention to engage in political-level consultations with the Russian Federation on the implementation aspects of the agreement, in order to dispel Russian concerns about its possible effects.

Other topics on the agenda

Over lunch, ministers debated the latest developments in Iraq and related aspects of the Syrian crisis, in the presence of Nikolay Mladenov, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq. They strongly condemned the attacks on Iraqi citizens by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups. The Council also raised serious concerns about the humanitarian crisis and the massive displacement of civilians caused by the fighting. 

In their conclusions, EU ministers expressed deep concern over the repeated acts of violence in Libya, calling on all sides to refrain from the use of force and to address differences by peaceful political means in order to ensure that parliamentary elections can be held on 25 June. 

The Council discussed the situation in the Syrian conflict after the presidential elections, including the humanitarian aspects of the crisis, and the diplomatic efforts being made to bring it to an end. Ministers welcomed the news that the last of Syria's declared chemical weapons had been shipped out of the country for destruction. However, in view of the gravity of the situation, the Council approved new sanctions against the Syrian regime.

Ministers were also concerned about the sentences passed against journalists in Egypt and the recent court decision to proceed with the death sentences passed against 14 leading figures from the Islamist movement. 

The Council also adopted a number of items without discussion:

FAC Press conference Video - 23 June

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