EU formins discuss relations with Turkey, support for southern neighborhood

  • 2021-03-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on Monday discussed the European Union's relations with Turkey and the southern neighborhood, as well as the European Union's policy towards Russia and the situation in Myanmar and Venezuela.

Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets took part in the Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels, where the European Union's relations with Turkey and the southern neighborhood, the European Union's policy towards Russia, support for Georgia and the situation in Myanmar and Venezuela were discussed, spokespeople for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

During the meeting, a discussion took place with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and the ministers adopted the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime package.

Liimets said that Turkey is a strategic partner of the European Union and that it is worth keeping the channels of communication open, while showing solidarity with Greece and Cyprus. "The European Union stands ready to promote economic and trade relations with Turkey, provided that Turkey commits itself to reforms, ensures the protection of human rights and the rule of law, and continues to ease tensions in the eastern Mediterranean," the minister said.

Speaking about the southern neighborhood, Liimets said that the "more for more" principle should be applied, according to which the EU will work more closely with those neighboring countries that are more willing to implement reforms themselves. "Our goal should be to create a value-based partnership," Liimets said. "We need to find ways to contribute to the realization and increased resilience of EU's climate and digital goals in the southern neighborhood. It is also important to mitigate the root causes of migration there and to diversify and strengthen supply chains."

Due to the case of Alexei Navalny, EU foreign ministers a few weeks ago adopted sanctions against four Russian people responsible for arrest and repression. Ministers now imposed additional restrictive measures on 11 people and four entities from China, North Korea, Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and Russia.

"The European Union's condemnation of human rights violations must be clear. Sanctions are a tool to respond clearly to serious violations and to create wider political pressure to put an end to them," Liimets said.

These people are now banned from traveling to the European Union and their assets in the European Union has been frozen.

"It is important that any restrictive measures taken by the EU are in accordance with international law and the rule of law. The regime also provides for exemptions for humanitarian aid," Liimets added.

During the discussion with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, Liimets affirmed that, as a member of the UN Security Council, Estonia is paying attention to serious human rights violations around the world.

"The past year has brought a new wave of serious infringements here in Europe as well. It is important for Estonia to support Belarusian civil society. Gross human rights violations there and in Russia cannot be ignored," the minister said. "The European Union must remain united and firm in principle. We must also increase our support for the Eastern Partnership countries and make proposals to promote cooperation with those eastern partners who are interested in a closer relationship with the EU."